Thursday, April 27, 2017

Q by Peter Chang to open in May in Bethesda

A quick update on the eagerly-awaited Q by Peter Chang since my report on Monday - the restaurant has announced it will open next month at 4500 East-West Highway. They are interviewing for all positions this week.


See a sneak peek inside Q by Peter Chang

Bold Bite expecting to move early next week in Bethesda

Bold Bite will be moving down Norfolk Avenue early next week to the former Smashburger space at 4903 Cordell Avenue, if all goes according to schedule. Stay tuned for the official opening date.

Expect expanded hours now that they no longer have to share a kitchen with TapaBar. It's unknown yet if the new schedule will include late night hours. 202 Donuts & Coffee will remain on Fairmont Avenue. All 3 highly-rated restaurants are owned by brothers Alonso and Alvaro Roche.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Construction permit requested for site related to 7900 Wisconsin project in Bethesda

A construction permit request has been filed with Montgomery County for 8001 Woodmont Avenue - a curious request, as that property is part of The JBG Companies' 7900 Wisconsin mixed-use project. That project would demolish retail and office structures on Wisconsin Avenue, and the Autodentz and parking garage on Woodmont Avenue north of Fairmont Plaza, and south of Bethesda Chocolates. The permit request mentions it is for a "multi-family dwelling high rise," with a building area of 422,373 SF.

This is yet another sign that JBG is moving forward at last on this delayed project, which is supposed to be anchored by a Trader Joe's grocery store. What doesn't make sense is, why isn't the permit for constructing the high-rise useing the 7900 Wisconsin address? Isn't that the address of the high rise the permit is for?

JBG has already requested demolition, and sheeting-and-shoring, permits for the project, one of the more-promising in downtown Bethesda.

Macedonia Baptist Church members kicked out of MoCo Executive's office during Westbard cemetery protest (Video+Photos)

Leaders and members of Macedonia Baptist Church, and their supporters in the community, converged on Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's office in Rockville yesterday morning for their first "Justice Tuesday" protest. The action is in response to the Planning Department cover-up of the "lost" cemetery with ties to the black community that existed on River Road in Bethesda for about 100 years after Maryland Emancipation.

Church members, surrounded by
Sheriff's deputies, are thrown
out of County Executive Ike Leggett's office

Desecrated during construction of Westwood Tower in the late 1960s, the cemetery is now threatened by a plan by developer Regency Centers and Montgomery County to build a parking garage atop the graves.
Tensions during the months-long dispute have been raised by disrespectful and misleading treatment of church representatives by the Planning Department and Planning Board. The latter called in 7 squad cars to planning headquarters, when protesters showed up quietly there. Yesterday, they received a similar response, being asked to leave under threat of physical force.

MBC's social justice director, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, told a Leggett representative that church officials felt the executive had "treated us like dogs" in a recent meeting. That meeting resulted in a letter from Leggett to the Planning Board, which - it was later discovered - was written with the knowledge that Planning Director Gwen Wright had secretly given Regency the go-ahead to conduct their own, unsupervised cemetery investigation. In essence, the letter's proposal of a mediator to reach agreement on monitoring the investigation was an empty promise - the investigation was already underway.

"Gwen Wright must go!" protesters chanted. Leggett's office then summoned at least 5 Sheriff's deputies to inform protesters they could either move into a hidden conference room, thereby sparing Leggett further public embarrassment, or get out.
Eventually, the body-armor-clad deputies encircled the group of protesters, as MBC's pastor, the Rev. Segun Adebayo, attempted to deliver a prepared statement. "This is what you offer us," a protester said, gesturing to the armed deputies, "a show of force." Leggett's representative again exacerbated the situation by reverting to the County's talking point that the cemetery's existence is in question. "We don't know what is there," she told protesters. That is false, as land records prove the cemetery existed, and there is no document so far to indicate any legal relocation of remains from the graveyard.
"You're throwing us out?" asked Rev. Adebayo. "I am the pastor of a church." Turning to Leggett's representative, he noted that Leggett has been to Macedonia Baptist Church in the past to seek votes from the congregation. "He cannot hide behind his office," Adebayo said. "He has to stand up."
The group then filed out of the office toward the elevators, singing the civil rights standard, "We Shall Not Be Moved." Adebayo reiterated that the group will continue the Justice Tuesdays initiative next week. Protesters then walked over to the County Council Building, where the Council was in session to discuss the Bethesda Downtown Plan. That meant Wright and Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson - who infamously surrounded himself with armed police officers when Coleman-Adebayo attempted to hand him a petition at a Board meeting - were on hand, as protesters silently made their presence known.
The cemetery case has not only exposed the institutional racism of Montgomery County Government, but also that there is something going on behind the scenes with Westbard for the County Council and Planning Department. Normally hyper-politically-correct, the County Council and planning commissioners have had no qualms about appearing racist in the Westbard case. Already, emails obtained by public information requests have shown that planning officials conspired to cover-up the cemetery during the Westbard sector plan process. Where there's smoke, there's usually fire.

Harvey Matthews (plaid shirt at right),
one of the surviving members of the
River Road black community

Pastor Rev. Segun Adebayo

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Westbard Rite Aid robbery update

I have an update on the robbery of the Rite Aid on Westbard Avenue in the Westwood Shopping Center. The robbery caused the store to remain closed for much of Sunday.

2nd District Montgomery County police commander Captain David Falcinelli says there were two alleged robbers. The two suspects entered the store around 1:30 PM Sunday afternoon, and proceeded to jump over the pharmacy counter. They grabbed narcotics from the pharmacy shelves, and fled the store.

Falcinelli says the Montgomery County Police Department Robbery Section is currently investigating the incident.

Ourisman Honda resumes demolishing wall along Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda

Ourisman Honda yesterday resumed its demolition of a controversial wall it recently constructed up against the Capital Crescent Trail, just off of Bethesda Avenue. The wall is part of an equally-controversial addition to the dealership, which included a massive parking garage. Together, the wall and addition are believed to be illegally intruding into three different easements, including that of the trail itself.

There is also a question of a fire code requirement that demands a 20' area for ladder trucks to access the rear of the Flats at Bethesda Avenue, in the event of a fire or emergency. While Ourisman has begun tearing down the wall without explanation, they have so far resisted calls to demolish the garage. That issue will be resolved by the Board of Appeals later this Spring. Trail users have been warned by signage to use caution when approaching the demolition site.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Source: Tastee Diner agrees to sell, will be acquired for Marriott HQ site in Bethesda

A source tells me the owner of Tastee Diner has agreed to sell the venerable restaurant's property, to make way for a larger Marriott headquarters and hotel to be built on that block in downtown Bethesda. After several months of negotiations with the Marriott site property owner, Tastee Diner has reportedly agreed to sell for $7 million. That is $2 million more than the offer they received in February.

Whether the diner would move to a new location, remains to be determined. If the deal goes through, Montgomery County officials should insist that a Hot Shoppes restaurant be included in the future hotel to balance out the nostalgia factor.

The Marriott headquarters project is a partnership between the hotel giant, property owner Bernstein Companies and Boston Properties. It is expected to deliver in 2022. Tastee Diner is located at 7731 Woodmont Avenue, a corner of the same block as the Marriott site, which is addressed as 7750 Wisconsin Avenue.

Bethesda construction update: True Food Kitchen (Photos)

True Food Kitchen has posted a sign with the grand opening date and time for the health-oriented restaurant. There's also a menu on display. It appears they will be doing an extensive amount of training, because the dining room looks just about finished, and they've actually already passed their Montgomery County pre-opening environmental inspection. True Food Kitchen is in the ground floor of the new Solaire Bethesda apartments, located at 7077 Woodmont Avenue.

Sneak peek: Q by Peter Chang restaurant in Bethesda (Photos)

The sign is installed and lit at Q by Peter Chang, located at 4500 East-West Highway. Arguably the most-anticipated Bethesda restaurant opening scheduled for 2017, the acclaimed chef's flagship venture is also making a bid to be the best-looking. Already the interior is making use of unique lighting and design accents, while taking full advantage of the main dining room's dimensions.

You can take a virtual tour of the dining room on the Q by Peter Change website, which is now online. Interestingly, the colored lighting of the designs above the dining room is not shown in the 3-D model, so it's clear that the finished interior will be even more impressive than the renderings. Q by Peter Chang is expected to open before summer, although the official grand opening date has not yet been announced.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rite Aid on Westbard Ave. closed after robbery today (Photos)

The Westbard Rite Aid in Bethesda was closed much of today, after the store was robbed early this afternoon. From what few details I've been able to find out so far, a robber reportedly demanded drugs at the store's pharmacy and fled. 

The store was then closed, with a sign in the front door declaring the Rite Aid a crime scene. Two police cruisers were parked outside at the Westwood Shopping Center. Customers with urgent prescriptions to be picked up were directed to the Potomac store. 

There has been no official statement released by Montgomery County police as of press time.

Bethesda construction update: The Rugby (Photos)

The tower crane has been installed at the construction site of The Rugby. A 17-story mixed-use tower, The Rugby will complement the existing Gallery Bethesda luxury apartments at 4800 Auburn Avenue. Both will share a pedestrian plaza, and both were developed by Donohoe. This is a good time to brush up on crane signals.

Bethesda man vanishes - Bethesda crime update

A man disappeared after leaving his Bethesda home Friday night, and Montgomery County police are asking for the public's assistance in finding him. Sean Preilipper, 37, walked away from his Tanglewood Drive house around 7:00 PM Friday, and hasn't been heard from since.

Preilipper is described as a white male, 6′ tall, and weighing about 200 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes.  When he left home, he was wearing a dark colored sweatshirt, dark jeans, and dark colored shoes.

Police are concerned for Preilipper’s emotional and physical welfare. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Sean Preilipper is asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number, 301.279.8000.

BIBIBOP Asian Grill hiring ahead of opening at Bethesda Row

BIBIBOP Asian Grill, the fast casual chain taking over the shuttered ShopHouse restaurant on Bethesda Avenue, is now hiring staff. The brand is the latest venture by Charley Shin, who was also the man behind Charleys Philly Steaks (don't ask me where the apostrophe is in the name, though).

Each meal is a variation on the Korean dish of bibimbap, mixed rice with your choice of proteins, vegetables and sauce. A lot like the restaurant it replaces, but with the added benefit of coming to us from the great city of Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus was recently named the most high-tech city in America by Forbes magazine (the city actually has a long history of high-tech innovation, for those familiar with it). This likely befuddled our Montgomery County Council. When not struggling to find the doorknob to get out of the room, our Council has bumbled through one tech gaffe after another this decade. Gaffes ranged from the revelation that the County government was still using Windows 2014, to a humiliating state audit of cybersecurity failures at MCPS, and even Councilmember Hans Riemer breaking his own failed open-data law.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Class 520 sets opening date in Bethesda + how to win 3 months of free ice cream

Class 520, a Thai fried ice cream roll shop in the Shoppes of Bethesda on Elm Street, will open on Friday, May 5, 2017. The first 30 people in line on Friday and Saturday will win VIP cards good for 3 months of free ice cream. Class 520 has an existing location in Rockville.