Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Montgomery County's first Taco Bell Cantina is "coming soon"

Montgomery County is finally getting its own Taco Bell Cantina, and it's about time! The upscale Taco Bell concept will be opening at 8662 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring, according to a banner posted on the storefront. It looks like construction has already begun inside. Is Rockville next? With 50 Taco Bell Cantinas planned for New York City, surely there's room for more than one in MoCo.

What is the difference between Taco Bell Cantina and a regular Taco Bell? A fancier interior, an open kitchen like you find in hip restaurants, custom menu items, and adult versions of Taco Bell freezes alongside a selection of beer, wine and sangria. As you can see, Taco Bell fans are already lining up outside. Or is it for The Fillmore next door? The Fillmore doesn't have Baja Blast!

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Do you recognize this alleged armed robber of Dawson's Market in Rockville?

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating a suspect in yesterday's armed robbery of Dawson's Market at Rockville Town Square. The suspect entered the grocery store around 10:40 AM Monday, October 2, 2023. He allegedly attempted to shoplift food from the store, but was intercepted by an employee, who asked him to leave the premises. The suspect complied and left the store. Around 11:09 AM, the suspect returned to the store, allegedly brandishing a knife, took food and fled on foot. Detectives have released surveillance video from the store.

Police describe the suspect as a Black male, 27 to 37-years-old, 5'10" tall, and weighing approximately 225-250 pounds. He was wearing an orange baseball cap, black hooded sweatshirt, red t-shirt, black pants, white and gray sneakers, blue surgical mask and red and black gloves.  

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or this crime is asked to visit the Crime Solvers of Montgomery County, MD website at and click on the “” link at the top of the page or call 1-866-411-8477. A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect. Tipsters may remain anonymous. 

Former chef at D.C.'s Obelisk opening La Speranza in Rockville

The sign is up at La Speranza at 806 Baltimore Road in the Burgundy Park Shopping Center in Rockville. Neptali Mendoza will be the executive chef of the Italian/Tex-Mex restaurant, his first venture after a long career in Washington, D.C.-area restaurants. He started cooking professionally under the chef Peter Pastan at the Michelin Guide-listed Italian restaurant Obelisk at 2029 P Street, N.W. in 2006. Mendoza then moved onto RedRocks Pizzeria in Alexandria, and Baronessa Italian Restaurant here in Rockville, which closed last year. He is a graduate of the culinary arts program at the Carlos Rosario International School.

La Speranza will serve Neapolitan-style pizzas cooked in a wood-fired brick oven, classic Italian entrees and pasta dishes. A smaller set of Tex-Mex and Latin American favorites on the menu will include fajitas, carne asada, BBQ pork ribs, ceviche mixto, nachos, and gambos al aljillo. Steaks and seafood will round out a menu that should appeal to a wide audience in a convenient neighborhood location. Mendoza hopes to open La Speranza before the end of the month; stay tuned for an opening date.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Piketoberfest 2023 at Pike & Rose (Photos)

returned to Pike & Rose for 2023 yesterday. "North Bethesda's premier fall festival" featured food, live music, games, a pop-up bar by Hello Betty, and a craft beer garden hosted by Owen's Tavern. Among the performers was It's All Good, a cover band from the Delmarva peninsula. Also spotted was the Calluna Flower Truck, a vintage Chevrolet pickup truck loaded with fresh flowers for sale. The fall events at Pike & Rose continue this week, with an Oktoberfest Seafood Boil at Hello Betty this Saturday, October 7, from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Tickets are $59, and available online.

Sheetz "highly impressed with the performance" of its first Montgomery County store in Gaithersburg

says it is "highly impressed with the performance" of its first store in Montgomery County, which opened in August at 751 Progress Way in Gaithersburg. The rapidly-growing convenience store and mega gas station chain provided its impression of the early financial success of the store in a new memo to the Gaithersburg Mayor and Council, which provided answers to questions raised at a previous public hearing regarding its planned second store at the Walnut Hill Shopping Center. In the unsigned memo, the company also expressed its appreciation for the support it has received from the City and the public, as it enters the Montgomery County market. 

The Altoona, Pennsylvania-based chain also reports 350 people attended the grand opening. In addition to the $2500 donations it made to Special Olympics Maryland and Feeding America that day, Sheetz says it has now made a second $6000 donation to SOM, which was generated by proceeds from its special discount fuel promotion during the grand opening period.

Gaithersburg has provided a welcoming launch point for the chain, as its zoning is friendlier to Sheetz than Montgomery County's, as well as to its fellow Pennsylvania competitor, Wawa. That is why both firms are launching their entry into Montgomery County within its city limits. It's also why the Walnut Hill Shopping Center is seeking annexation into the City, so that it can add the Sheetz store to its property.

Sheetz says its Walnut Hill store will be smaller and have less gas pumps, due to its closer proximity to a residential neighborhood than its Progress Way store - although that store was also smaller than the typical Sheetz operation found on major highways. It predicts that there is enough drive-by traffic on I-270 and MD 355 to support both Sheetz locations. Sheetz also believes that the lack of fast food restaurants in the immediate proximity of Walnut Hill provides demand for its quick-service fresh food operations. An attorney representing Walnut Hill Shopping Center, in separate correspondence to the Mayor and Council on September 19, says that the revenue provided by the Sheetz store will cover the cost of needed upgrades to the property.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Fire at the Grand apartments in White Flint

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service personnel responded to a report of a fire at the Grand apartments at 5801 Nicholson Lane in the White Flint area last night just after 7:00 PM. The fire was located in a dumpster in the basement trash room of the 15-story high-rise. MCFRS Pete Piringer reported that the fire was extinguished without spreading any further. 

Smoke from the fire did rise to some of the floors above, and some residents required assistance from firefighters. But there were no injuries, Piringer said, and no residents have been displaced. However, a lingering odor of smoke shortly after midnight this morning led a resident to call 911. MCFRS personnel responded, but found no evidence of fire.

Aggravated assault at store in Rockville

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an aggravated assault at a store in Rockville on Thursday afternoon, September 28, 2023. The assault was reported at a business in the 14900 block of Shady Grove Road at 2:22 PM Thursday. That appears to be at the Fallsgrove Village Center. A weapon other than a firearm was employed in the assault, which was not a domestic incident, according to police.