Tuesday, April 30, 2024

The Block food hall closes in Rockville

The Block
, the Asian food hall at 967 Rose Avenue at Pike & Rose, has closed. Reduced hours and departing tenants had already reduced business at the venue. The closure was first reported by The MoCo Show. In March, Store Reporter noted that property owner Federal Realty had removed The Block from its leasing map. Vendors told MoCo360 that the food hall might close at the end of the month.

Kung Fu Kitchen replaces Peter Chang in Rockville

Peter Chang has left the building. The beloved restaurateur and chef recently opened a Gaithersburg location, but now his Rockville outpost has closed. His space at 20-A Maryland Avenue at Rockville Town Square isn't going dark like so many others in the struggling town center, though. It has quickly been filled by Kung Fu Kitchen. Promising a new menu of "authentic Chinese cuisine," it still has the Peter Chang signage above the storefront, but that will change in the coming weeks.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Armed robbery in Rockville

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery in Rockville early Saturday morning, April 27, 2024. The robbery was reported at a store in the 5400 block of Randolph Road at 2:37 AM Saturday. There is a 7-Eleven store on that block. A firearm was the weapon employed in the robbery. 

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Hertz rental car completes move in Rockville

has completed its move on Rockville Pike, including finally getting its permanent logo signage over the storefront. The rental car office's new location is at 1052 Rockville Pike, at the Edmonston Crossing shopping center. Operating hours are 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. 

If only the hours you've been forced to spend those cringeworthy, unskippable Tom Brady Hertz ads on YouTube could translate to rental car credits! He should be David Trone's running mate.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Montgomery County firefighter among 226 to be honored at National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend

A former Montgomery County firefighter will be among 226 fallen firefighters to be honored at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg, Maryland on May 4 and 5, 2024. Master Firefighter Mark R. Fisher Jr. passed away on July 24, 2014 from illness related to his response to the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Fisher was also a member of the Maryland Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue Team, with whom he responded to other disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. He was with the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service for 22 years, and also served as an instructor for the department. 

Fisher was a member of the Johnny Swamper Club, Frederick Elks Lodge No. 684, and the Loyal Order of the Moose No. 948 in Charles Town, West Virginia, and a life member of the United Steam Fire Engine Company, No. 3 Frederick. He left behind a wife, three children and five grandchildren. Fisher briefly played pro football with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was 59 years old at the time of his passing.

Two main events will be held on the memorial weekend at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park in Emmitsburg. The National Fallen Firefighters Candlelight Service will be held on May 4 at 7:30 pm ET, hosted by Fire Captain Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department. The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service is on May 5 at 10:00 am ET, and will be hosted by actor Jeremy Holm. Both events are open to the public, but will also be streamed online live for those who cannot attend in person.

Police called after assault at Rockville store

Rockville City police were called to a retail store on Rockville Pike Thursday, after an assault was reported at the business. The assault was reported at a store in the 1600 block of Rockville Pike at 5:29 PM on Thursday, April 25, 2024. An individual was also accused of shoplifting in the the incident.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Assault in Rockville parking lot

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault in a parking lot in Rockville Tuesday night, April 23, 2024. The assault was reported in a commercial parking lot in the 12000 block of Rockville Pike at 8:14 PM Tuesday. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Ssong's Hotdog closes at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Ssong's Hotdog
has permanently closed in the Dining Terrace food court in Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The Korean hot dog vendor was closed last evening, and the menu screens had been removed. A calendar behind the counter is still set on March. A Ssong's Hotdog spokesperson confirmed this afternoon that the Bethesda location has closed. Their other Maryland locations remain open, he said, including Columbia, The Hub Asian Food Hall in Catonsville, and Towson. Disappointing news, as these were great hot dogs, and the design of the branded packaging was well done.

Contents of Rockville restaurant to be auctioned off

The contents of Super Bowl Noodle House at 785-G Rockville Pike at the Ritchie Center in Rockville will be auctioned off starting tomorrow, April 26, 2024. Super Bowl Noodle House has permanently closed, and all equipment, furniture and fixtures are being liquidated. Among the items up for bid are a rice cooker, flat screen television, neon "OPEN" sign, various sinks, and multiple refrigerators. Equipment will have to be removed from the premises on Monday, April 29, between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM, according to the auction listing.

Brio's Chicken now open at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Brio's Chicken
has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The Peruvian charcoal chicken restaurant is located in the former Tara Thai space, on the upper level of the parking deck outside the Nordstrom wing. Tara Thai closed there just over a year ago. 

It seemed like an ideal spot for a new chain restaurant like Olive Garden or Texas Roadhouse, or any of the other brands ubiquitous nationwide, but bizarrely missing from Montgomery County. Much like Walmart (with the exception of the Germantown store that was built before the chain was banned by the County Council) and Cracker Barrel, you can drive in any direction out of Montgomery County and find these chains in the surrounding counties, and every few miles as far as you keep driving across the nation - - but not here. Truly nutty, and utterly embarrassing for our elected officials, even if the local press won't call them on the carpet for it. Surely there's a Maura Judkis article to be written, albeit filled with snarky, elitist swipes at those who derive enjoyment from unlimited bread sticks.

Westfield has chosen to go local again in this space with Brio's, an admirable trend we've seen at the mall in recent years, although many of those tenants have been short-lived. In contrast, The Cheesecake Factory has been a huge success. A pretty solid market for Latin American chicken has been established in Montgomery County, however, with the growth of chains like Don Pollo and Pollo Campero, so there is promise here as Brio's opens.

There's no functioning website for Brio's as of this writing, and their Facebook page is spartan in information. Their Google listing states, "At Brio's Chicken, we pride ourselves on being an authentic Peruvian eatery, renowned for our specialty: succulent charcoal-grilled chicken. [C]ulinary passion brings the vibrant flavors of Peru to your plate, inviting you on a tantalizing journey through traditional Peruvian cuisine." Initial operating hours for Brio's at the mall are 7:30 AM to 10:30 PM Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM on Saturdays, and 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Sundays, according to the schedule on the door.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Police respond to assault at Rockville grocery store

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a grocery store Monday afternoon, April 22, 2024. The assault was reported at a store in the 200 block of N. Washington Street at 2:09 PM Monday. Dawson's Market is located on that block, at 225 N. Washington Street, at Rockville Town Square.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Woman breaks into self-storage facility in Rockville

Montgomery County police are searching for an adult female suspect they say broke into a self-storage facility in Rockville. Detectives say the woman forced her way into Castle Mini Storage at 12040 Parklawn Drive sometime between 3:00 AM on April 12, 2024 and 9:30 AM on April 13. However, there is so far no indication that the woman stole anything. Police have not released a physical description of the suspect at this time. If you have any information about this suspect or incident, you are asked to call police at (301) 279-8000. Give Castle credit for having probably the best building aesthetics among a world of cookie-cutter storage chains!

Monday, April 22, 2024

Rockville couple victimized in Facebook property scam

A Rockville couple fell victim to a Facebook scammer who targeted those seeking rental housing in the area, Rockville City police say. The couple, who live in King Farm, responded to a recent Facebook Marketplace ad offering a property for rent. They were told to electronically send cash deposits prior to viewing the property, police allege.

The couple then scheduled a property tour. When they arrived at the property at the appointed time, they found it was not actually available for rent, and the Facebook scammer was nowhere to be found. Residents should be on guard for such scams on Facebook and other websites with anonymous property listings. Do not pay any money upfront before you can confirm the legitimacy of a transaction or offer.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Chocolate Moonshine relocating at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

There have been rumors among employees in the Dining Terrace food court at Westfield Montgomery Mall recently that a chocolate shop would be filling the vacant 7-Eleven space. But signage just installed over the storefront indicates it's existing tenant Chocolate Moonshine that will be replacing the short-lived convenience store. Chocolate Moonshine abruptly closed in its current spot earlier this month, but now it turns out it won't be leaving the mall after all. 

Chocolate Moonshine's existing location, as
seen closed during business hours on April 7

This isn't the first time Chocolate Moonshine has closed for a spell at the mall without explanation. But it's managed to survive longer than many other tenants; in fact, it is nearing a decade in business here, a major accomplishment in business-hostile Montgomery County. The gluten-free, organic chocolatier first opened at Montgomery Mall in October 2016.

Tattooed man steals women's apparel in Rockville

A tattooed man stole a "large quantity" of women's apparel from a store in Rockville, Rockville City police say. Around 6:17 PM on April 9, 2024, the adult male suspect allegedly fled a store in the 1600 block of Rockville Pike with a valuable haul of women's athletic apparel. Police describe the suspect as a White male with a thin build, 20 to 29 years of age, with a mustache and tattoos on his arms. If you have any information about this incident or the suspect, contact Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Mango opens at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. 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. Look for Mango's 11th American store on Level 1 of the mall, across from Shoe Charms.

"Go, go Gadget coat!"

Friday, April 19, 2024

Teso Life Japanese Super Store "coming soon" to Rockville

Teso Life
, the "Japanese Super Store," is "coming soon" to Rockville, according to signage posted at its future storefront at 1701 Rockville Pike. The chain features a variety of imported Japanese goods, including groceries, toys and collectibles, housewares, beauty and health products, and kitchenware. If this sounds familiar, it's likely because Teso Life's similarly-named competitor, Ebisu Life, already opened a store on Rockville Pike two years ago. 

The addition of Teso Life bolsters a new era for the Shops at Congressional Village, which is shifting to align itself with the booming Asian business sector in Rockville. As Rockville finds itself vying to be the ultimate destination for Asian cuisine in the Washington, D.C. area, the retail property has leased several spaces to new Asian restaurants. When it opens, look for Teso Life next to 7-Eleven.

Talbots closing at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

is closing at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Large signs announcing the pending closure were posted in the now-empty display windows of the store Thursday evening. Talbots opened here in June 2014, a refugee from White Flint Mall. The women's apparel chain's Village of Cross Keys location near Baltimore closed January 6, 2024. That store was much older than the Bethesda Talbots, opening there in 1996, and had existed even before then at a previous location.

Police respond to assault at Rockville office building

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at an office building Wednesday afternoon, April 17, 2024. The assault was reported at an office in the 800 block of Rockville Pike at 3:24 PM Wednesday. 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Windows smashed on 21 vehicles on one Rockville street

Two thieves smashed the windows of 21 vehicles parked on one Rockville street on the morning of April 13, 2024, Rockville City police say. The two unidentified suspects were carrying flashlights along the 200 block of Congressional Lane at 4:20 AM Saturday. They proceeded to smash the windows on three dozen cars, and rummage through the interiors, police allege. 

Among items reported stolen from the vehicles were cash, ID cards, credit cards, and a small travel purse. No physical description of the suspects has been released. If you have any information about this incident or the two suspects, contact Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

McDonald's Bacon Cajun Ranch McCrispy chicken sandwich arrives in Montgomery County

It's not the legendary Cajun McChicken, but a Louisiana-inspired chicken sandwich is once again on the McDonald's menu for a limited time. The Bacon Cajun Ranch McCrispy has a Southern-style fried chicken "fillet" topped with applewood smoked bacon strips, crinkle-cut pickle slices, and a Cajun ranch sauce, on a toasted potato roll. A deluxe version adds lettuce and tomato. According to the official McDonald's nutrition facts, the Bacon Cajun Ranch McCrispy has 630 calories, 33 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 11 grams of sugar, and 1650 milligrams of sodium. 

Car stripped of all wheels in Rockville parking garage

A car was stripped of its wheels in a Rockville parking garage on April 5, 2024, Rockville City police say. At 3:05 AM that morning, two unknown suspects drove a silver hatchback into a garage in the 100 block of King Farm Boulevard. While the getaway driver waited, the second suspect emerged from the vehicle wearing a mask and gloves. The masked suspect smashed the window of a car, and retrieved a wheel lock key from inside. They then proceeded to steal all four wheels from the car.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Marc Elrich is right again on COG's developer-funded housing targets flimflam

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has weighed in again on the latest revival of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government's zombie housing targets plan, and once again, he is correct in seeing through COG's developer-funded flimflam job. Elrich told The Washington Post that COG's math is "faulty," and that's probably being generous. He criticized COG for trying to gin up "a sense of panic" about housing.

COG's housing targets plan is a bald-faced attempt to juice developer profits by using that false "panic" to loosen zoning restrictions, severely reduce public input on zoning and development proposals, override responsible growth policies, and generate more taxpayer subsidies for development companies that are already profitable private concerns. The people behind the COG curtain count on two things to achieve success with their housing targets scheme: the local media functioning in their role as stenographers more than journalists, in repeating COG's message verbatim with no scrutiny or criticism, and readers and viewers accepting these parroted talking points at face value.

Alas, when one studies the details, the COG scheme immediately falls apart. In a highly-educated area like this, it's not surprising that COG's plan still hasn't caught on, despite five years of relentless propaganda about it.

First of all, COG's math is wildly off-target. In order to meet the COG targets, "87 units per day" would have to be constructed in the region. To put that in real terms, that would mean a garden apartment complex being delivered each day in the DC Metro area. That doesn't even happen in a city like New York. China at the height of its real estate boom might be the only place on earth to approach such construction numbers, and it wound up demolishing many of those buildings, which ultimately stood vacant. In short, the target is not even achievable without overriding most regulations, approval processes and public engagement at a level that would severely compromise local budgets and quality of life, and by ignoring the fact that there is little demand for overpriced luxury apartments. Many of the new apartments in Bethesda, for example, are vacant and are being operated as illegal Airbnb hotel rooms. Whoops!

Second, COG describes "affordable" housing as costing the renter or homeowner $2300 a month. That is preposterous, and not affordable by any real-world measure. The $2300-$5000 apartment rents in the area are the problem, not the solution. And despite building thousands of new housing units every year, rents in Montgomery County only continue to skyrocket, proving that the real estate sector is no longer governed by market forces of supply and demand.

Third, COG itself, and the other entities trying to force its plan onto local jurisdictions, are funded by developers and developer lobbying organizations. Among those funding COG are entities connected to the Cafritz Interest real estate development firm, and Connected DMV, a development lobbying and advocacy firm. The Urban Institute is funded by development interests, big banks who profit from mortgage loans on real estate, and even BlackRock(!!), the massive international investment firm that has actually made housing more costly by snapping up homes. 

Nothing makes Wall Street-lapdog fact-checkers' heads explode faster than pointing out the BlackRock connection to inflated home prices. Those "reporters" will claim that it's Blackstone, Inc. that is buying up homes, while trying to downplay the fact that BlackRock is a part owner of Blackstone, holding an astronomical 45.99 million shares in the firm as of December 31, 2023. Blackstone snapped up 38,000 homes across America in one January 2024 transaction alone.

I've monitored home prices in the D.C. region, and across the country, for many years. Home prices have not only surged in our expensive area in recent times, but also in some of the most undesirable Podunk Junction towns in the middle of nowhere. Being funded by BlackRock, and then trying to be a credible voice on affordable housing, is quite an acrobatic feat to say the least.

Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University? Its advisory board is stacked with leaders from the real estate development industry. Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers (HAND)? As a very smart person once said, "They call it a non-profit, but somebody profits." Not only do non-profit or public housing entities often partner with private developers on projects that generate windfall profits for the latter, but - as we've seen in Montgomery County - non-profit leaders often draw and increase large salaries from taxpayer funds, and then write political campaign checks to the same elected officials who voted for those grants of taxpayer funds.

And let's not be surprised that the Post gives favorable coverage to COG's plan and all other pro-development and upzoning initiatives. The paper not only derives significant revenue from real estate advertising, but has been a major real estate player in the region itself, selling its former D.C. headquarters for $159 million and its Alexandria warehouses to developers for an estimated $30 million. The latter became the kind of dense development being advocated for by the COG housing targets.

The Post story on COG's housing targets also aligned with many of the attempts to leverage the race card into developer private profits we've seen in recent years. It's a shameful tactic by the development industry, which has historically leveraged race in this way from blockbusting, to the reversal of blockbusting by driving people of color out of those same neighborhoods decades later via gentrification. "Equity" is not a $2300-a-month rent.

This latest effort by COG and the Post to revive the zombie housing target scheme makes clear they intend to let no obstacle stand in the way of developer profits at taxpayer expense. The article explicitly calls for removing public input from zoning and development decisions, resident stakeholder communications the article complains "account for 40% of a housing development's budget." We're familiar with this effort in Montgomery County, whether hearing developer lobbyists urge the County Council to ignore public input because it is coming from "old people who have nothing better to do than testify at public hearings," or the Council's full-court press to continue to block restoration of the Office of the People's Counsel, an attorney who can provide free advice to residents and represent their interests in administrative hearings."

Elrich supports restoring the Office of the People's Counsel. He should continue to correctly oppose COG's housing target scheme.

Yet another assault reported at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

The hits just keep on coming at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Another assault was reported at the mall property on Sunday night, April 14, 2024 at 8:14 PM. This is the second assault reported at the retail center this month, and the sixth of 2024. There were only five assaults reported at the mall in all of 2023.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Assault at Rockville condo complex

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at a condominium complex in Rockville Saturday night, April 13, 2024. The assault was reported at a condo property in the 12300 block of Braxfield Court at 9:50 PM Saturday. It allegedly occurred in a parking lot at the complex.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Suspect arrested in Rockville Pike apartment tower burglary

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a burglary at the North Bethesda Market apartment tower at 11418 Rockville Pike, in the early morning hours of March 28, 2024. The responding officer found no evidence of forced entry, but property was allegedly stolen from the building. Malik Gillispie, 28, of no fixed address, was observed and arrested at the scene. He has been charged with 2nd-degree burglary, failure to identify himself, and using a false identity to avoid prosecution.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Music-blasting mohawk man nets Walgreens shoplifting haul in Rockville

A mohawk-sporting man stole "a large quantity of merchandise" from a Walgreens drugstore "while playing loud music," Rockville City police say. The man allegedly filled two reusable shopping bags and a shopping cart at the Walgreens store at 430 Hungerford Drive before fleeing the business at 10:40 AM on April 5, 2024.

Police describe the suspect as a Black male of thin-to-medium build, approximately 25 to 35 years old, with a light complexion, a mohawk and a full beard. If you have any information about this incident or the suspect, contact Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Larry Hogan sets fundraising record for a Maryland U.S. Senate candidate

The unexpected chance to flip a U.S. Senate seat was expected to boost the inflow of campaign cash into the Maryland this year, but former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has exceeded expectations, by setting a fundraising record for a U.S. Senate race in the heavily-Democratic state. Hogan has raised more than $3.1 million since his surprise last-minute entry into the contest on February 9, his campaign announced yesterday. That total marks the most raised by a Senate candidate in any quarter in state history, and outpaced the campaign of Democrat Angela Alsobrooks by $1 million in half the time. Alsobrooks is locked in a contentious Democratic primary race with billionaire David Trone, who is self-funding his campaign, and spending big on advertising.

Hogan greets a voter in
Leonardtown, Maryland yesterday

“Our team is incredibly humbled and grateful for the overwhelming amount of support and positive reception we have received across the state since announcing mid-February, and we are just getting started,” Hogan said in a statement Thursday. “In a race where we are likely to face either the billionaire trying to buy the election or the candidate of the Democratic machine, there is no doubt we are the financial underdog too. Every day, our focus is on getting our message out to Marylanders who are fed up and frustrated with politics as usual. It’s time to get back to work, fix the broken politics, and send a message to Washington!”

Hogan delivers fresh Dunkin' Donuts
to volunteer firefighters in
Prince Frederick, Maryland yesterday

Hogan is in the middle of a ten-day bus tour of the state. The tour coincides with the start of mail-in balloting in Maryland, as voters begin to receive their primary ballots in the mail this week.

Photos courtesy Hogan for Maryland, Inc.

Montgomery Mall 2024 assault numbers have already equaled total for all of 2023

The latest assault reported at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda brings the total number of assaults this year to five. That's the same number of assaults that were reported over the entire year of 2023 at the busy retail center. Montgomery County police responded to the latest incident at 3:10 PM on April 6, 2024, when an individual was allegedly the victim of a 2nd-degree assault. Should assaults continue to be reported at this pace, the 2024 number could be at least 15 assaults, which would exceed the record of 12 assaults set by the mall in 2022.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Woman attacked with hammer in Rockville Town Center

A woman was assaulted by a hammer-wielding man in the Rockville Town Center area early in the morning on April 7, 2024. The victim told Rockville City police that she was visiting the 200 block of N. Washington Street, and was approached by an unknown male subject at 3:25 AM. He suddenly produced a hammer, and struck her "on the face" with it, she said. 

The suspect then fled in a black SUV. No tag number for the getaway vehicle has been released, nor has a physical description of the alleged attacker. If you have any information about this incident or the suspect, contact Rockville City police at 240-314-8900.