Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Barnes & Noble raising the roof at Congressional Plaza in Rockville

It may or may not be a real upper floor, but a second level of architecture is being added above the future Barnes & Noble bookstore at Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. You may remember my update from December showed a frame structure rising on the front facade. 

Now there is a whole new roofline on top of that section of the strip mall, and it seems to be an attempt to match the higher floors of the Neiman Marcus last call STUDIO/new FITRow section directly adjacent to it, visually if not functionally. Having said that, anytime you have a bookstore with more than one floor, I will give you extra points for that. Also note that now the new front windows are uncovered.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Madison Reed Color Bar signage pops up in Rockville

Rockville Nights readers have known for a month that Madison Reed Color Bar is coming to Congressional Plaza this spring. But the harsh-chemical-free hair color studio is now making its imminent arrival public at the shopping center on Rockville Pike with some "Coming Soon" window screens.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Mavana Nails & Waxing closes at Rockville Town Square

Mavana Nails & Waxing has closed at 100-H Gibbs Street at Rockville Town Square. The salon opened in the spring of 2017.

Evoluxxy opens at Pike & Rose

Here's something that almost never happens in retail - a business that opens before the predicted opening season. Evoluxxy has opened at Pike & Rose. The women's designer-label fashion boutique was expected to open in the spring. Evoluxxy is located between Olive & Loom and Lucky Brand at 11811 Grand Park Avenue.

Bobby's Burger Palace closed at Montgomery Mall

Apparently, someone did manage to Beat Bobby Flay. Bobby's Burger Palace has closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall. It's hard to believe, but the upscale burger joint did manage to last for six years and four months, not bad at all for a restaurant in the horrible business climate the Montgomery County Council has created for thin-profit-margin hospitality enterprises.
The windows and door were blacked out Sunday, and a farewell message thanking diners was posted. I do recall being pointedly snubbed for the media preview of this restaurant in 2013, an event attended by Bobby Flay himself. Not very smart to not promote your restaurant to thousands of readers of the leading source for Rockville restaurant news at launch time. Always a bad way to enter a market in the new media age.

Friday, February 14, 2020

7-Eleven now hiring at Montgomery Mall store opening this spring

The long-awaited 7-Eleven opening this spring at Westfield Montgomery Mall got a step closer yesterday. Signs announcing that hiring of staff has begun were posted at the store's location in the Dining Terrace.
It will be interesting to see how many employees will staff the store. Most 7-Elevens are understaffed, but I have seen others around the country that have separate staff to assist with fresh food items. I'll have a Big Bite hot dog with everything on it.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Tesla Supercharger station now online at Pike & Rose

A new Tesla Supercharger station has now been activated in the Trade Street garage at Pike & Rose. The Federal Realty property's garage was already doing its part for the environment with the largest solar canopy on a retail garage in the state of Maryland. Now multiple stalls are available on garage Level P6 for Tesla owners to recharge while shopping, dining, or taking in a movie at Pike & Rose.
This Supercharger site is also is one more dot on the nationwide network of Tesla charging stations, a network that surpasses any of the automotive company's electric rivals in the industry. Only one Tesla owner was taking advantage of the new Supercharger last evening, but expect that to increase as the word gets out. I look forward to plugging in my Cybertruck here someday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Pizza Palace for sale in Rockville

Rockville's Pizza Palace is for sale. The pizzeria, located at 14050 Travilah Road, has been in business for just over 20 years. If you've ever wanted to own your own pizza parlor, the asking price for the Palace is $64900, according to the online sales listing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Kobe Bryant tribute at Montgomery Mall

Kobe Bryant is being remembered at the Microsoft Store at Westfield Montgomery Mall. The former NBA star and Oscar winner was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was one of several tech industry leaders to comment on Bryant's death in the hours and days after the crash.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sherwin-Williams to open new Rockville Pike location

Sherwin-Williams Paint will open a new location at 856 Rockville Pike. The building, which is owned by Douglas Development, was formerly a mattress store. Construction of the store interior has begun.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Peking Duck to open at Montgomery Mall

Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda has announced that Peking Duck will open at the mall in the fall of 2020. The mall owner says the restaurant will specialize in the cuisine of Northern China. Peking Duck will be located on Level 1. Stay tuned for more details on Peking Duck.

Photo via Westfield

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana opening at Montgomery Mall

Coal-fired pizza appears to be the new trend in Montgomery County. Less than two weeks after the opening of Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza in downtown Bethesda, Westfield has announced that the pizzeria touted as the "world's best" by many is coming to Montgomery Mall by the end of this year. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana will be located on Level 1 of the mall. The photo released by Westfield suggests the pizzeria will have an exterior storefront, which makes sense with the town center-style addition coming to the mall this decade.

Founded in 1925 in the beautiful town of New Haven, Connecticut, the pizza chain is still run today by Frank Pepe's descendants. Each location has a coal oven modeled after the original one Frank Pepe began using in 1929. All of their current pizzerias are in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York, so this will be the first Pepe's outside of that region.

Pepe's has won the Best Pizza title numerous times from media outlets and dining guides. YouTuber Tarnation Bob swears by the mushroom pizza at Frank Pepe's, and their White Clam Pizza is known as their signature menu item. Soon it will be our turn to sample what we've been told is the World's Best Pizza at Montgomery Mall, and we're likely to see lines such as those in the photo above.

Photo via Westfield Montgomery Mall

Rare February severe storm hits Montgomery County

Damaged car on
Norbeck Road
Montgomery County is being pounded by severe storms this morning. A tornado was issued for parts of Gaithersburg and Germantown, as well as the northeast corner of the upcounty near the Howard and Carroll County borders. Flooding has been reported across the upcounty, as have fallen trees and power lines. The whole county is being hit by the unusual February summer-style storm, but the upcounty is being affected the most.
Power lines, tree down on
Darnestown Road at
White Ground Road
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services have received so many emergency calls that they are now operating under Condition Red, which means there may be longer response times, particularly for non-critical incidents. Violent weather and storm damage have also impacted parts of Poolesville, Rockville and Silver Spring, most notably in the Dawsonville, Norbeck Road and Layhill Road areas.

Route 109 is currently blocked between MD 355 and the I-270 overpass after a tree fell across the roadway. Some lanes are also blocked at Route 28 and Route 107. Trees are also reported down by MCFRS on Circle Gate Drive in Germantown.

Photos by Pete Piringer/MCFRS

Lego Store opening at Montgomery Mall

New York may be getting Legoland this year, but Montgomery Mall is getting a Lego Store. Mall owner Westfield says a lease has been signed for a Lego Store at the property, and it will open this fall. According to Westfield, the store will offer products for Lego fans of all ages, and will be located on Level 1 of the mall.

Photo courtesy Westfield

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Federal Realty expands leadership team

Mike Ennes
Rockville-based development firm Federal Realty Investment Trust - owner of multiple properties in Montgomery County, including Bethesda Row, Plaza del Mercado and Rockville Town Square - announced yesterday that it is expanding its leadership team. Vice-President, Residential Mike Ennes has been promoted to Senior VP, Mixed-Use Initiatives and Corporate Communications. Senior Director of Development Jay Brinson was also promoted, to VP of Development.
Jay Brinson
Ennes came to Federal Realty in 2015 from Tysons-based Hilton Worldwide. Federal's Pike & Rose property features a Canopy by Hilton hotel. "Mike was sourced from the hospitality industry to better integrate Federal's various residential offerings into its burgeoning mixed-use portfolio," Federal Realty's president and chief executive officer Don Wood said in a statement Wednesday.

Wood cited Brinson as "critical to the delivery of 909 Rose, our first trophy office building at Pike and Rose." Federal Realty is relocating its Rockville headquarters into that building.

Photos via Federal Realty/LinkedIn

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Bella Sena boutique opens at Rockville Town Square

Bella Sena boutique has opened at Rockville Town Square. Owned by Bethesda resident Bella Sayag, Bella Sena carries casual and activewear apparel, hats, handbags and jewelry among its inventory. Bella Sena is located at 156 Gibbs Street, which was most recently home to Sunday Kitchen & Bath.

Fighter jets over DC, Montgomery County, N. Virginia after State of the Union rattle residents

Significant fighter jet activity over the Washington, D.C. area around 11:00 PM Tuesday night had many residents seeking answers, answers that are not forthcoming as of this writing. President Trump's State of the Union address had ended earlier, and the commander-in-chief was presumably already back at the White House by the time the jet flyovers began. It was not surprising to hear jets deployed, but they have not been heard to this extent following other recent State of the Union speeches.
The noise was somewhat reminiscent of the weeks following 9/11. It continued for about 15 minutes, paused for a few minutes, and then resumed for about 5 more minutes - at least over Montgomery County. Based on social media chatter, the jets were heard in the District and Northern Virginia, as well. Following the jet flyovers, commercial airliners were heard resuming landings at Reagan National Airport, in greater numbers than one usually hears along the Potomac after 11:00 PM.
A Google News search finds no news articles on the jet noise. In a tweet, Oriana Pawlyk, an air war reporter for, suggested the fighters may have been F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Ourisman Mazda building new showroom on Rockville Pike

Another Rockville auto dealership is getting a new look. Ourisman VW/Mazda at 801 Rockville Pike is building a new Mazda showroom. They remain open for business during the construction.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Pinnacle Pictures, Luxury Beauty & Nails open at Montgomery Mall; EJJI Ramen, UASIS close

EJJI Ramen closure official,
Luxury Beauty & Nails and
Pinnacle Pictures open

Two spas played musical chairs over the weekend at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. When the music stopped, one no longer has a spot. And a third spa opened. UASIS Day Spa has closed permanently. However, I'm told that the stylists at UASIS have moved to UA Salon and Day Spa, Ricky Alessandro Salon, and Avalon Lifestyle Nail Salon & Spa, all of which are located in Montgomery Mall.
Infinite Beauty closed on Level 2. But Infinite Beauty has another location by Nordstrom, Boutique Spa by Infinite Beauty.
Infinite Beauty's alternative
location - Boutique Spa by Nordstrom
Can't find your old stylist or technician at the new locations? Find someone new at the brand-new Luxury Beauty and Nails, in between Jamba Juice and Candy World.
Luxury Beauty and Nails
just opened
Finally, there's more bad news on the closing front at the mall. The closure of EJJI Ramen became official this weekend, when Westfield erected a wall around their former space in the Dining Terrace.
Can we end with some good business news, often in short supply thanks to our anti-business Montgomery County Council? Pinnacle Pictures has opened at the mall. Annoy our corrupt County Council by supporting local business and dropping a few bills on photo products here.