Thursday, October 31, 2019

Escapology opening tomorrow at Pike & Rose

Escapology, a new escape room attraction, will open tomorrow, Friday, November 1, 2019 at 11572 Old Georgetown Road, in the Pike & Rose development. Four escape rooms are available to choose from: Antidote, Budapest Express, Mansion Murder and Mayday. All four will be unlocked for public view from 2:00 to 4:00 PM tomorrow for a grand opening event. While a few escape rooms have opened in Montgomery County, this appears to be the first to locate in this type of development.

MoCo misses out on Mitsubishi HQ, relocation expert cites importance of airport access

Montgomery County hasn't attracted a single major corporate headquarters in over twenty years, and Mitsubishi North America won't break that humiliating streak of failure. The Japanese industrial giant's U.S. headquarters has been in sunny California since 1988. After a nationwide search, they've chosen Franklin, Tennessee.

"I’m proud Mitsubishi Motors will call Franklin its U.S. home, and bring 200 high-quality jobs to Middle Tennessee," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a press release announcing the victory. The press release notes that corporate headquarters jobs have grown by 37% in Tennessee since 2013. "Mitsubishi Motors’ decision to relocate its U.S. headquarters from California to Franklin underscores Tennessee’s growing profile as a hub for U.S. and international companies," Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Chair Bob Rolfe said. "Tennessee will continue to actively recruit quality headquarters jobs from higher-cost coastal states, and we are honored Mitsubishi will make this significant investment in Williamson County.”

This is just the latest major corporate HQ contest the Montgomery County Council and economic development officials have either lost, or simply dozed through without even making a bid. One ongoing disadvantage Montgomery has, besides its national reputation as a business-unfriendly jurisdiction with high taxes, is its lack of direct access to Dulles International Airport.

We could have had direct access by now, had our elected officials not canceled the long-planned Potomac River crossing to the Dulles area. John Boyd of corporate relocation firm The Boyd Company reaffirmed the importance of such access in recent comments about Sherwin Williams dissatisfaction with their current Cleveland HQ location, that has spurred them to begin a relocation search.

Boyd's analysis was reported by Cleveland's Fox 8 as follows:

He said air transit is a key factor in site selection. As Cleveland vies to keep the company that employs more than 33,000 people worldwide, Boyd said the region's lack of non-stop flights to markets around the globe is its biggest hurdle.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was ranked second-worst among 16 similar-sized airports in the J.D. Power 2019 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. The airport has commissioned a firm to create a new master plan for upgrades.

"Every time there's a major trophy headquarters project, you always think about the usual suspects: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston. Cities with major gateway airports," Boyd said.

Dulles is unmatched in our region for the frequency of flights and variety of international business destinations. It would be so simple to eliminate this major obstacle to economic growth by merely greenlighting the new bridge to Dulles. The Council's stubborn refusal to do so speaks volumes about their radical, fringe ideology, and total lack of competence.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pile driving to begin at Rockville senior housing project next month

Construction is beginning on the HarborChase Rockville Senior Living development at 55 W. Gude Drive. Early next month, pile driving will take place on the site, and a hydraulic vibrating pile driver will be brought in to work between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Whiting-Turner has requested a noise waiver for the pile driving, which is expected to go on for several months.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Derwood McDonald's to expand

The Derwood McDonald's at 15801 Frederick Road is planning an expansion. Under the site plan submitted by McDonald's USA, LLC to Montgomery County, the restaurant will increase in size on the lot from the current 5586 SF to 6082 SF.

The drive-thru will be changed to the dual lane design found at many McDonald's locations these days, allowing two rows of cars to line up at once. There will be "three small building additions" to the restaurant itself, and bicycle parking will be added.
McDonald's' site plan will be reviewed by the Montgomery County Planning Board on November 7, 2019. Planning staff is recommending approval of the site plan.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Popeyes chicken sandwich returning November 3

Popeyes has announced the return of its "sold-out" chicken sandwich. The sandwich will be available starting November 3, 2019. Popeyes intentionally chose a Sunday to bring back the chicken sandwich to emphasize that chicken sandwich king and arch competitor Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, likely in hopes of reigniting the chains' Twitter feud for publicity purposes.

Syd's Cakes + Bakes closed at Montgomery Mall

Well, that was quick. Syd's Cakes + Bakes, a.k.a. Syd's Bakery, has officially closed in the food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. They had only opened at the end of July, after the demise of predecessor Shilla Bakery. A third bakery, Patisserie Manuel, is set to open next month in the food court, but not here. For now, a generic "Coming Soon" wall has been installed over the Syd's space.

Gumbo Ya Ya sets opening date at Rockville Town Square

Gumbo Ya Ya fans in Rockville are counting down the final days until the Cajun-Puerto Rican restaurant opens its new location at Rockville Town Square. The owners have announced they will open on November 1, 2019. Their 101 Gibbs Street location was most recently home to Lab Cafe.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Red Door Salon & Spa rebrands as Mynd Spa & Salon in Rockville, Gaithersburg

Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon & Spa is in the process of rebranding nationwide as Mynd Spa & Salon. While the rebranding will occur one region at a time, their Rockville and Gaithersburg salons have now officially made the change. The revamped salons will focus on seven primary services: massage therapy, body treatments, skin care, nail care, haircut and color, makeup, and waxing. There will be a new emphasis on products from the European Union, where the company says environmental and purity standards are higher than in the United States.

Rockville's spa is at 934 Rose Avenue in the Canopy by Hilton hotel. Gaithersburg's is in the Kentlands at Kentlands Place, located at 62 Market Street.

Photo courtesy of Mynd Spa & Salon

Thursday, October 24, 2019

New shopping center, daycare facility proposed for Rockville

A developer has proposed a new strip mall and daycare center be constructed at 14119 Travilah Road in Rockville, near the intersection with Piney Meetinghouse Road. An existing retail structure would be demolished, and a daycare facility would be built behind the new strip mall and associated parking lot. The project is now before the Montgomery County Development Review Committee.
The daycare is expected to serve up to 195 children at once, within a 12762 SF building. Out front facing the roadway will be the 5896 SF retail structure, with multiple storefronts. A 9468 SF playground will also be constructed. 2972 SF of the property will be dedicated to the master plan widening of Travilah Road.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Congressional Plaza construction update (Photos)

The transformation of part of Congressional Plaza is underway. It looks like Federal Realty is going to make a distinctive facade for this part of the north wing of the shopping center. This is the area where they will be adding Barnes & Noble and up to three fitness studios in 2020. They are branding the new fitness-oriented section as FITRow, and it will be right next to the new bookstore. Note that the signs for Neiman Marcus Last Call and Thomasville Furniture have been removed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Del Frisco's Grille closes at Pike & Rose (Photos)

Del Frisco's Grille closed yesterday at Pike & Rose. According to a sign posted in the window, the charter tenant of the Federal Realty development is "permanently closed." I enjoyed many meals at this location, including the best Thanksgiving turkey I've ever had at a restaurant.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Dream Aero opens, Cookie Dough & Co. closes at Westfield Montgomery Mall (Photos)

Dream Aero, an authentic Boeing 737NG flight simulator, has opened for business at Westfield Montgomery Mall. The realism is incredible, but be prepared for sticker shock. A departure on the shortest 30 minute flight will set you back a whopping $165 through October 30. Multi-session training courses are available, as well.
There's no TSA checkpoint to worry about here. Upon entering, you'll be greeted by a man in a full airline pilot uniform. Before leaving, there is an assortment of souvenir gifts available for purchase.
Hold on to your wallet - this sim is likely
only for those whose billfolds are too large
to qualify as carry-on luggage
It quickly becomes apparent that this is not going to be an arcade game for kids after a movie at ArcLight Cinemas down the hall, but more of a professional training device. For aspiring pilots in Rockville, this could be a convenient first step to earning your wings.

While Dream Aero has successfully taken off, Cookie Dough & Co. is the latest mall tenant to crash land. Their kiosk, which opened in August 2017, has closed and been cleared out.

Friday, October 18, 2019

King Farm Parcel Plus for sale

The Parcel Plus shipping store at King Farm Village Center in Rockville is now for sale. According to an online sales listing, the asking price for the business is $200,000. They also sell greeting cards, gift wrap and gifts, as well as offer services such as a notary public, rental mailboxes and passport photos. The owners are selling because they would like to pursue a new business venture.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Francesca's closing Rockville store

Women's apparel boutique Francesca's is closing at Pike & Rose. The Texas-based fashion chain announced earlier this year that it would be closing twenty to thirty of its more than 700 stores nationwide. They are now hosting a closing sale at this store, which is located at 11811 Grand Park Avenue.
The good news for loyal Francesca's customers is that their Bethesda Row and Montgomery Mall locations are not currently scheduled to close. The even better news is that you can save 50% on your entire purchase at the Pike & Rose closing sale.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

First look: Lands' End Rockville store (Photos)

Here's a sneak peek at the new Lands' End store at Congressional Plaza. The store will still celebrate its grand opening on October 26, but in a last-minute change, the company moved up the actual store opening to tomorrow, Thursday, October 17, 2019.

Evoluxxy to open Rockville store

Evoluxxy, a women's fashion boutique featuring designer labels, will open a location at 11811 Grand Park Avenue at Pike & Rose next year. They have signed a lease for the space between Olive & Loom and Lucky Brand, property owner Federal Realty announced Tuesday. Curated brands carried by Evoluxxy include Max Mara Weekend, Vince, AGOLDE, MOTHER DENIM,  Maison Kitsune, Yuul Yie and Etc.

“Pike and Rose offers some of the finest restaurants and retailers in the DMV and it is growing bigger and better,” Evoluxxy owner Amanda Dolin said. “We look forward to bringing our variety of nationally and internationally acclaimed labels to the neighborhood. Whether you are looking for a trendy piece, simple cocktail dress or a formal outfit, we’ve got it all.”

“With on-trend styles and must-have brands, Evoluxxy compliments the shopping experience that customers are seeking at Pike & Rose,” Federal Realty Leasing Director Emily Gagliardi said. Evoluxxy will open in Spring 2020.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Rockville Town Square ice rink under construction

It's already that time of year again. A chill is in the air, and the ice rink at Rockville Town Square has emerged from storage. A crew is assembling the rink for what seems like an earlier start each year.

Monday, October 14, 2019

When you run out of ramen on Sunday....

Katsu Ramen was closed yesterday at 12238 Rockville Pike. The explanation given for the closure was a "stock shortage." You may recall there was an ownership squabble here that went public a few weeks back, with the Katsu Go sign coming down, then later being replaced with the "Katsu Ramen" banner you see above.