Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Stanford Grill in Rockville to rebrand as Glenwood's

Stanford Grill
, the restaurant that opened in 2015 at 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard in Rockville, is getting a new name. Parent company Blueridge Restaurant Group announced today that it will rebrand all of its Stanford Grill locations as "Glenwood's" in the coming months. The company said the rebranding is part of major expansion plans that will include a goal of opening 13 new restaurants in nearby states over the next few years, as well as a major investment in the existing Maryland restaurants it operates. 

"Since the opening of Stanford Grill, our focus has been on offering the local community an upscale yet approachable dining experience that prioritizes attention to the smallest details," Blueridge Managing Member David Jones said in a statement today. "Our approach has been less about us and more about understanding our guests’ desires. Consistently providing delicious cuisine, refined service, and a beautiful setting has been and will continue to be our priority." 

“While the announcement of this new name brings excitement for our Company’s future, we will stay true to the principles that have established us as one of the most popular dining destinations in our area. These principles are what made us who we are, and we will remain committed to them, regardless of our name.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Montgomery County police chief announces retirement

Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones abruptly announced his retirement this morning, January 30, 2024. He has served the public for 38 years, the last four of them as chief. His retirement will be effective Monday, July 1.

“It has been an honor to lead such a dedicated and talented department of officers and professional staff. I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together, and I am confident in the department’s continued success,” Chief Jones said in a statement. “Now is the right time to retire. I am grateful for the support I have received throughout my career. While I may be stepping down a few months earlier than originally planned, I won’t be far. You will still see me around, actively engaging in and contributing to the well-being of Montgomery County.”

A department press release states that the search for a new police chief will begin immediately. Chief Jones did not cite a specific reason for his retirement, nor for moving his retirement date up to July 1.

7-Eleven reportedly to close at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

A source tells me that the 7-Eleven at Westfield Montgomery Mall is closing. They report that the lottery machine had already been removed from the store Monday. An employee told them the convenience store would close tomorrow, Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Employees will reportedly be offered jobs at other local 7-Eleven stores. 7-Eleven opened at the mall in July 2020, after a 19-month construction process

Monday, January 29, 2024

Rockville jewelry store broken into

Rockville City police responded to a burglar alarm at a jewelry store early yesterday morning, January 28, 2024. The call came from a store in the 1500 block of Rockville Pike at 3:14 AM Sunday. Aras Jewelers is located on that block. Officers arriving at the scene found evidence of forced entry to the store.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Strong-arm robbery at Rockville bus stop

Rockville City police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery at a bus stop Friday night, January 26, 2024. The robbery was reported at a bus stop in the 700 block of Hungerford Drive at 7:00 PM. That is just north of Rockville Town Center on MD 355.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Police investigate assault at Rockville hotel

Rockville City police were called to the Red Roof Inn at 16001 Shady Grove Road Wednesday night, January 24, 2024, after a 2nd-degree assault was reported there. The assault was reported at the hotel at 11:41 PM Wednesday. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Man denied entry by Rockville store smashes window

A man who was denied entry to a store on Rockville Pike allegedly smashed a front window at the business, Rockville City police say. The suspect punched the window of a store in the 1700 block of Rockville Pike at 1:35 AM on January 21, 2024. Police did not say why the man was denied entry. 

The suspect is described by police as a Black male, 32 to 33 years of age, with a medium build, and 5 feet, 10 inches in height. If you have any information about this suspect or this incident, you are asked to call police at 240-314-8900.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Robin Ficker endorses Donald Trump for President

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Robin Ficker (R) has endorsed Donald Trump for President, the Boyds resident and attorney announced in a press release timed to coincide with Trump's second consecutive victory of the 2024 primary season. The endorsement isn't likely to help Ficker much in the general election, in a state where Trump has some of his lowest popularity numbers in the nation. But, barring former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan coming to his political senses, Ficker has a very good chance to be the GOP nominee in the race this November. He is the only declared Republican candidate in the race with statewide name recognition, as both a former elected member of the House of Delegates and a notorious Washington Bullets superfan seen on TV reports from coast to coast over the decades.

"It's time for us to coalesce behind the only Presidential Candidate capable of restoring logic to our government," Ficker said in a statement. "President Trump is the only candidate with a proven track record of historically low unemployment, safer communities, and lower energy prices. Together, President Trump and I will secure our Southern border. Together, President Trump and I will stop the flow of fentanyl across our border and onto our streets. President Trump and I will take swift and decisive action to protect our communities and secure our border.

"President Trump and I will bring the country into a new, prosperous economic age and help the United States become energy independent again, pursuing an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to our energy sector. President Biden has failed in every one of these categories. The choice is clear. Reject Biden's policies in the ballot box this November and vote for Donald J. Trump!"

Police called after assault at Rockville restaurant

Rockville City police responded to a report of an assault at a restaurant on Rockville Pike early Tuesday morning, January 23, 2024. The assault was reported at a restaurant in the 1300 block of Rockville Pike at 1:14 AM Tuesday. There is a 24-hour McDonald's located on that block.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Best Buy shelves growing bare as promised 2024 phaseout of physical media begins (Photos)

The DVD and Blu-Ray shelves are growing spare, if not quite bare, at Best Buy stores nationwide. The big box electronics chain announced last fall that it would phase out such physical media in 2024, and it's one New Year's resolution that's being kept. While 4K, Blu-Ray and DVD movies are still being manufactured, Best Buy won't be stocking them as they're released anymore. You can see the policy change beginning to take effect at this Best Buy store at 10901 Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. 

It's been a long time since I've bought a physical copy of a movie. For me, it wasn't so much the convenience of digital or streaming films, but the fact that fewer and fewer releases came with deluxe packaging and collectible items inside. When all you get is an expensive steelbook case and the disc(s) inside, there's little incentive to buy the physical product anymore. And behind-the-scenes features on many discs seem to get illegally uploaded to YouTube eventually, where they can be viewed for free.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Kelly's Cajun Grill to open at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Kelly's Cajun Grill
is "coming soon" to the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, according to signage there. We're kind of late to the party with this franchise, as several malls in our region already have, or have had, a Kelly's Cajun Grill. There's an Asian element woven into what otherwise sounds like a typical - if rather short - Louisiana menu. 

Bourbon Chicken is the specialty of the house at Kelly's Cajun Grill. It's "world famous," they say, and has been its signature dish since the first location opened in Florida in 1991. They also have Blackened Chicken, Shrimp Etouffee, and Blackened Fish. For every spring roll or noodle, there's still a side of rice and beans or Cajun fries. If Popeyes has indeed closed for good, Kelly's Cajun Grill can gar-on-tee that there will still be Louisiana flavors in the food court at Montgomery Mall.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Twinbrook Quarter developer seeks ROW agreement with Rockville for Wegmans, wayfaring signage

B.F. Saul, the developer of the future Wegmans-anchored Twinbrook Quarter development, is seeking an agreement and air-rights easement for wayfinding signage at the mixed-use property from the City of Rockville. The signage, which would present the name of the development and its retail tenants, would be placed within the public right-of-way along Rockville Pike, Halpine Road and Chapman Avenue. Other signs would be attached to the buildings above ground level, hence requiring an air rights easement to protrude into the public space above the sidewalk. 

Proposed Rockville Pike signage locations

The space in question belongs to the City of Rockville, but could later be ceded to the Maryland State Highway Administration if a FLASH bus rapid transit station is constructed at Twinbrook Quarter. Route 355 itself is currently a MDSHA right-of-way. The land directly adjacent to it on the east side of the Pike presumably was turned over to the City of Rockville when a city-controlled parallel service road was proposed. Only a portion of the service road has been constructed so far.

Halpine Road sign locations

The 99-year agreement proposed would be revocable at any time on 30-days' notice by the City. Twinbrook Quarter would assume all maintenance, insurance and liability requirements for the portions of the right-of-way and air rights in question. The Mayor and Council will review and discuss the proposed agreement and easement at their meeting tonight, January 22, 2024 at 7:00 PM. City staff recommends that the Mayor and Council approve and authorize the Acting City Manager to execute a Revocable License and Maintenance Agreement and an Air Rights Easement for Private Amenities in the public right-of-way with Twinbrook Quarter, LLC.

Chapman Avenue sign locations

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Parte Haus opens at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Parte Haus
has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The "ultimate party hub," as the company calls itself, carries a wide selection of party supplies and balloons. As you can see in these photos, those include cups, plates and party hats. If you've always wished your one-stop-shopping here could include party planning, look no further than Parte Haus. You will find it on Level 1 of the mall, next to Relax Station. 

Popeyes closed again at Montgomery Mall in it the end this time?

has been closed in recent days in the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Yesterday, it was indeed closed during normal operating hours, as seen here. Popeyes has closed for short periods in the past, only to reopen for business

One reader reports that the owner has retired, and that this closure is for good; Google is also stating that this Popeyes is "permanently closed." What's certain is that Montgomery County is in desperate need of a Popeyes with a drive-thru.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Assault at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville

Montgomery County police were called to the campus of Richard Montgomery High School late yesterday morning, January 19, 2024. At least one person reported having been the victim of an assault there. The school, which is located at 250 Richard Montgomery Drive, was closed yesterday due to the weather. Police responded to the scene at 11:39 AM Friday.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Pitbull stolen in Rockville

An 8-month-old pitbull was stolen from the yard of a Rockville home on January 12, 2024, Rockville City police say. The dog was taken from a yard in the 200 block of N. Horners Lane in East Rockville. Police say the pitbull was stolen sometime between 12:00 and 1:00 PM that afternoon. If you have seen the stolen dog, or have any information about suspects or this incident, you are asked to call police at 240-314-8900.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Would-be burglars try to kick their way into house in Rockville

A pair of high-stepping suspects tried to kick their way into a house in Rockville on the evening of January 7, 2024. The suspects approached a home in the unit block of Harrowgate Court in Potomac Woods around 8:55 PM that night. They proceeded to kick the front door, but ran off after it failed to give way, Rockville City police said.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Police respond to assaults at 2 different Rockville office buildings

Rockville City police officers responded to 2nd-degree assaults reported at two different office buildings yesterday, January 16, 2024. Police were first called to a building in the unit block of Preserve Parkway at 10:00 AM Tuesday. A second assault was reported about three-and-a-half hours later, at an office building in the 15200 block of Shady Grove Road at 1:27 PM.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

UPDATE - CANCELED: Democratic Maryland U.S. Senate candidates to meet voters January 20 in Rockville

UPDATE - January 20: The WDCMC has announced today's event is CANCELED due to MCPS closing all school facilities this weekend.

Democratic candidates for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Ben Cardin (D) are scheduled to meet voters this Saturday, January 20, 2024 in Rockville. The meet-and-greet event will be held in the cafeteria at Wootton High School at 2100 Wootton Parkway from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. It is being hosted by the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County. A round-robin format will place the candidates at tables in the room, and small groups of attendees will be led around to stop at each table over the course of the event.

Registration for the free event is available online. Democratic candidates in the race include Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Marcellus Crews, Juan Dominguez, Brian Frydenborg, Scottie J. Griffin, Steven Seuferer, U.S. Congressman David Trone, and Andrew Wildman. The event announcement does not indicate which candidates have confirmed their attendance.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Police investigate assault at Rockville recreation facility

Rockville City police were summoned to a recreation facility in the Lincoln Park area Saturday afternoon, January 13, 2024, after someone reported being the victim of an assault there. The incident was reported to police at 4:28 PM Saturday, at a facility in the 1000 block of Westmore Avenue. 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Mountain Dew Baja Blast returns to stores in Montgomery County

Mountain Dew Baja Blast
, one of the greatest soft drinks of all time, is back on store shelves in Montgomery County. Seen here at Harris Teeter, the popular soda will be available year-round nationwide for the first time. Available at all times as a fountain drink at Taco Bell, Baja Blast has sporadically been sold in bottled form over the last decade. But PepsiCo is going big to celebrate the drink's 20th anniversary in 2024.

"MTN DEW BAJA BLAST has cemented its place as a fan-favorite flavor in pop culture and as a staple in countless Taco Bell orders, so we knew we had to celebrate its 20th anniversary in a big way," Mountain Dew Vice-President of Marketing JP Bittencourt said in a statement. "Nothing's better than giving fans what they've asked for, with a few additional surprises to keep the celebration going all year long. Thank you to all the BAJA BLAST lovers over the last 20 years. Because of you, everyone nationwide can now buy the beloved flavor in-stores and as always, at Taco Bell, all year long and earn rewards while doing so... that's a win-win."

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Teazzi Tea Shop to open first DMV-area location in Bethesda

Teazzi Tea Shop
, a Taiwanese tea chain, will open its first store in the Washington, D.C. region right here in Montgomery County, in downtown Bethesda. It will be at 4941 Elm Street, in the Shoppes of Bethesda. Teazzi currently has 4 New York City-area shops, as well as locations in Boston, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Sunnyvale (California), and Las Vegas. The company has franchisees gearing up to open in Seattle and San Gabriel (California), and in a second Boston location. 

Tea selections at Teazzi include Four Seasons Oolong, Golden Oolong, Amber Oolong, Deep Roast Oolong, Dark Roast Black Tea, and Jasmine Green Tea. Menu options include milk tea, fruit tea, floam, tea lattes, and Teazzi's signature (but optional) topping of oats. Construction on the Bethesda shop will commence in the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy Teazzi Tea Shop

Friday, January 12, 2024

Parte Haus opening at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Parte Haus
will be opening any day now at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The "ultimate party hub," Parte Haus offers an extensive inventory of party and balloon supplies. A logo sign has already been installed above their storefront. Look for Parte Haus on Level 1 of the mall next to Relax Station.

Rockville police seeking e-bike thief

Rockville City police are seeking the public's assistance in identifying and locating a suspect in connection with the theft of an e-bike in the Twinbrook area of the city. On January 4, 2024, the suspect entered Trek Bicycle at 5750 Fishers Lane at 7:57 PM. He allegedly proceeded to remove an e-bike from the store's window display, and fled the scene. Police describe the suspect as a Black male—33 to 37 years of age, with “facial hair” and wearing all-black clothing. Anyone with information regarding the suspect or this incident is asked to call police at 240-314-8900.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Masked man smashes office windows in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a masked suspect attempting to break windows at an office building early on Christmas morning, December 25, 2023. Due to the holiday vacation week, the incident was not reported to them until January 2, 2024. Police say the suspect threw stones at several windows at an office building in the unit block of Research Place around 12:14 AM on Christmas. The suspect then fled in a silver-colored "compact sedan." Anyone with information regarding the suspect or this incident is asked to call police at 240-314-8900.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Eko House to close in Rockville

Eko House
, the African restaurant and lounge at 150 Gibbs Street at Rockville Town Square, will cease operations "effective Sunday, January 14th, 2024." The business is citing "misalignment with our landlord" as the reason for closing. Owners Yomi Ajao and Francis Odiase say they are actively seeking a new location for Eko House, and hope to reopen soon in that new space. Eko House opened two years ago at the struggling Rockville Town Square, which has a number of vacant storefronts.

Police called after assault at Rockville rec center

Rockville City police were called to a recreation facility in an industrial area of the city late Sunday afternoon, January 7, 2024, after someone reported having been the victim of a 2nd-degree assault there. The assault was reported at a facility in the unit block of Southlawn Court at 5:51 PM Sunday. There are several athletic facilities on that block. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Montgomery County allowed County agency-owned high-rise to operate without fire alarms for 2 months

The Montgomery County government and owner Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County allowed residents to occupy the 15-story Westwood Tower apartments for two months without an operating fire alarm system. County officials have now condemned the high-rise building at 5401 Westbard Avenue in Bethesda after an electrical fire brought the existing violations to light this past weekend, and further damaged the building's electrical systems. In lieu of a functioning fire alarm system, HOC had posted signs inside the tower instructing residents to "evacuate and call 911" in case of a fire. The signs did not advise how residents who might be asleep during a fire would be aware one had broken out, nor how their neighbors in the approximately 200 apartments would be notified on more than a dozen floors.

Sign posted inside Westwood Tower after the
building's fire alarm system went down on November 9, 2023;
it was never repaired, and the building was condemned after
a fire on January 6, 2024

After the fire alarm system broke down on November 9, 2023, the HOC stationed personnel in the building lobby to be on-duty in case of a fire. It was unclear how one person could physically cover 15 floors (not to mention without an elevator),and knock on hundreds of doors, in the few seconds that might be needed for all residents to safely evacuate. One resident reported that these employees were sometimes seen dozing off in the lobby. Residents report that the HOC never informed them of a timeline for restoration of the fire alarm system. "Fire officials have repeatedly been called to the building because of the lack of a fire alarm," one resident said, and that the building has been "cited repeatedly because of a lack of fire alarm."

Generator outside the building, which has
no power; residents have been relocated

The insanity of the idea of one person being able to function as a human fire alarm for a 15-story building became clear this past Saturday night, when a transformer blew inside the building. Several residents I spoke to reported that not only were there no fire alarms sounding, but the backup "human fire alarm" in the lobby did not contact any of them. They smelled and saw smoke, and self-evacuated, alerting other residents on their way out of the building. One resident who lives on a floor that did not initially have smoke only learned the building was on fire when a friend who lived on a smoke-filled floor called them to say there was a fire, and to get out. 

Residents report that they were left freezing in the building from 6:00 PM Saturday night, until the building was condemned and evacuated 24 hours later. Power in the building was limited, and there was no heat at all. Security functions to keep non-residents and potential criminals out of the building were inoperable.

To top it off, the HOC initially refused to provide alternative shelter to residents, advising them to instead make a claim on their own apartment insurance to cover the cost of hotel rooms. As the details began to reach the public a day later, Montgomery County agencies announced they were providing off-site shelter. The HOC said the residents were being moved to hotels in the area. Residents were told that they could be displaced from the building for as long as three weeks.

There is concern among residents, given the County's inaction regarding the fire alarm outage in the preceding weeks and the building's ownership being politically affliated with the elected officials who appoint and oversee them, that repairs will be allowed to drag on. Last night, two extremely loud generators roared outside the darkened apartment tower. There was no visible activity at the building. 

Residents of HOC properties have long pointed out issues regarding health and safety in their buildings. Those complaints were backed up by the findings of federal inspections, which found 75% of the units they inspected failed to meet federal standards. It now appears the agency was allowed to violate the County's fire code for two months, by operating a building without functioning smoke and fire alarms to alert occupants.

The HOC acquired the building several years ago with grand plans to construct more buildings and garages on the property. When those plans were stymied by protests that arose when the agency announced it intended to build a parking garage on top of the Moses African Cemetery at the rear of the property - where many of the graves were desecrated during the building's construction in the late 1960s, the HOC then attempted to sell it to a private developer. That sale was temporarily blocked by a Montgomery County court injunction, and the buyer backed out of the transaction. The dispute - that the HOC tried to sell the land with the cemetery without notifying the descendants of those interred there, in violation of Maryland law - will be ruled on by the Maryland Supreme Court later this year.

The County and the HOC are only fortunate that Saturday's fire was not more serious. This could have been a catastrophic disaster, had a fast-moving fire engulfed the building. Elected officials have yet to criticize the situation that existed at the property; in fact, the County Councilmember who represents the area has so far tweeted only praise for County agencies.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Mango opening soon at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

is coming soon to Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, according to signage posted across its future storefront. The Barcelona-based fashion brand launched this latest Mediterranean-inspired store concept in 2021. But the company, which manufacturers apparel for men and women, was founded in 1984 by brothers Isak Andic and Nahman Andic. When it opens, look for Mango's 11th American store on Level 1 of the mall, across from Shoe Charms.

Rockville police searching for New Year's meat thief

Rockville City police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating a suspect who allegedly stole meat from a business on Rockville Pike. The suspect entered a business in the 1800 block of Rockville Pike around 2:35 PM on January 1, 2024. He allegedly grabbed an unspecified quantity of meat from the business, and fled in a Honda SUV. Police did not release the tag number or model of the getaway vehicle.

The suspect is described by police as a Black male wearing a black jacket, surgical mask, black pants, and red shoes. Anyone with information regarding the suspect or this incident is asked to call police at 240-314-8900.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

J. Chow's closes at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

J. Chow's as seen on December 27, 2023

It was certainly suspicious when J. Chow's Chicken, Ribs & Salads was closed during normal operating hours on December 27, 2023. The eatery in the Dining Terrace food court hasn't reopened since. Their equipment is still there, but someone has now unplugged the beverage cooler. Store Reporter and The MoCo Show both report that J. Chow's has closed. Sad news indeed for this family business that managed to survive both Lerner's plug-pulling on the much-missed White Flint Mall by relocating here, and the pandemic.
December 27

This weekend