Saturday, December 20, 2014

CITY LIGHTS OF CHINA REPAIRING FIRE DAMAGE

City Lights of China is working towards reopening after a devastating kitchen fire that caused over $400,000 in damage to the restaurant about 3 weeks ago. The Bethesda Avenue Chinese restaurant has requested a construction permit from Montgomery County's Department of Permitting Services for $19,000 worth of interior fire damage repair and restoration.

A reopening date has not yet been set.

SIGNS OF THE FUTURE AT FUTURE LOT 31 PUBLIC PARKING GARAGE IN BETHESDA (PHOTOS)

While the construction work going on above ground across from Barnes and Noble gets the most attention right now, workers are just as busy below ground. Yesterday, the sign that will one day tell you how many of the 900 parking spaces are available in the future public parking garage under The Darcy, The Flats and Woodmont Avenue was installed.
This sign - just like the ones
already at Bethesda Row -
will tell you how many spaces
are available in the garage
(garage entrance at right)
The sign is not yet functioning, but at night - along with the lights inside the ramp down into the garage off Woodmont Avenue - you can get a clear sense now of where you will be turning in to park, should you choose this garage as your option when shopping or dining at Bethesda Row. You will have options for both in the buildings right above you, as well. PassionFish, Paul Bakery, Chopt, Silver Diner, and Pottery Barn will be among the tenants when The Darcy and The Flats are delivered in the third-quarter of 2015.

For now, at least you know where to park.

Friday, December 19, 2014

LANCE SPRINKLED SUGAR SWEET CREME COOKIES REVIEW (VIDEO)

Lance has a second limited-edition Christmas cookie this year, Sprinkled Sugar Sweet Creme cookies. On today's episode of the Christmas Countdown, I'm testing them out. The two primary differences between this cookie and their standard Van-O-Lunch variety are the Sweet Creme filling, and green and red Christmas sprinkles baked right into the sandwich cookies. How do they taste? Watch my review to find out!

BETHESDA CRIME UPDATE

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on December 16, according to crime data:

Theft. Old Georgetown Road at Woodmont Avenue.

Theft. 4600 block Maple Avenue.

Drug arrest. 5900 block Connecticut Avenue.

Assault. Chesire Drive at Grosvenor Lane.

Theft. Giant Food at Georgetown Square Shopping Center.

Vehicle burglary. 11500 block Schuylkill Road (Randolph Hills).

Theft. 11500 block Rockville Pike (Pike District).

Theft. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Burglary. Westfield Montgomery Mall.

FIRE AT BETHESDA CONDOMINIUM

A fire Thursday evening on the second floor of the Adagio condominiums at 6820 Wisconsin Avenue did more damage to evening commutes than the building. With a fire station located directly across Bradley Boulevard, and a sprinkler system installed, the fire was quickly contained to the utility room where it broke out, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer.

Sprinklers activated properly, and there were no injuries, Piringer said. The large response necessary for a high-rise fire did cause some temporary lane delays for traffic on Wisconsin Avenue.

CHLOE'S NY STYLE DELI FILES FOR CONSTRUCTION PERMIT IN BETHESDA

Chloe's New York Style Deli,  coming soon to Westfield Montgomery Mall, has filed for a construction permit with the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services.

The 500 SF space is located in the mall's revamped Dining Terrace.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ROY ROGERS FRIED CHICKEN REVIEW (VIDEO)

On today's installment of the Christmas Countdown, I return for another taste of the old Bethesda from the new Roy Rogers on Rockville Pike. This time I'm testing Roy Rogers' famous fried chicken. Does it still taste as good as in the old days on River Road? Watch my review to find out!

SOULCYCLE GRAND OPENING TODAY IN BETHESDA (PHOTOS)

The new SoulCycle cycling fitness studio opens today in Bethesda. This Saturday, December 20, there will be a Grand Opening celebration from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. A DJ will spin music, and there will be a photo booth and refreshments by Bethesda Row neighbor Sweetgreen.

Last night, workers were busy getting the gym ready, including installing the sign above the storefront. Branded apparel was also on display. SoulCycle is located in the Shoppes of Bethesda on Elm Street. The gym opening now restores two tenants within the space formerly occupied by Irish pub Ri-Ra (the second being Noodles and Company).




Installing the sign

BETHESDA POLICE COMMANDER DEPLOYS EXTRA OFFICERS FOR SHOPPING HOTSPOTS, DUI OFFENDERS

Captain David Falcinelli, Commander for the 2nd District of the Montgomery County Police, issued a statement yesterday regarding progress on several recent crime trends in the Bethesda area.

Falcinelli wrote that an alleged robber posing as a job-seeker recently attempted to steal the purse of an employee at an unspecified Bethesda business. The suspect was arrested within hours, Falcinelli said, and remains behind bars. A second suspect, who robbed a Wildwood Shopping Center ATM customer, was also caught by police.

A rise in daytime burglaries has cooled off, with no similar incidents reported since mid-November, Falcinelli said. He added that 2 suspects were arrested in early December, and that police have leads on three others that they are confident will lead to their arrest.

Finally, with the holiday shopping season at its height, Falcinelli said that he is deploying extra officers to major shopping areas such as downtown Bethesda, Westfield Montgomery Mall, and the high-end retail shopping centers in the Friendship Heights area. He also warned residents about the usual holiday gift thieves who prowl mall parking lots looking for packages in vehicles, or who chase UPS and FedEx trucks to collect boxes after they are dropped on doorsteps. The Holiday Season DUI Task Force will continue to patrol area streets throughout the holidays, he said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SWISS MISS FRENCH VANILLA COCOA REVIEW (VIDEO)

Today on the Christmas Countdown, I'm testing another hot chocolate from Swiss Miss, French Vanilla Cocoa. The package, designed as a Christmas tree ornament, promises a cocoa like those you would find in the "finest cafes in France."

Does it live up to the hype? Watch my review to find out!

BETHESDA'S MARRIOTT CORPORATION HIRES ACTORS FROM SPIDER-MAN, THE GOOD WIFE FOR HOTEL-THEMED MOVIE

Could the next big screen movie heroes at your local cineplex be a couple of Marriott hotel bellhops? Bethesda's Marriott Corporation is pouring significant resources into its new creative content arm, Marriott Content Studio. Now that venture is moving to your local movie theater and streaming video services.

Two Bellmen, a short film about, well, two bellmen at a Marriott hotel, who (try to) foil thieves at a hotel art event, will be shot January 5-11, 2015 at the Los Angeles JW Marriott Hotel. But the protagonists aren't actually Marriott bellmen. Giving Paul Blart a run for his money will be William Spencer (Spider-Man) and Caine Sinclair (Grimm, How I Met Your Mother) as the titular luggage toters. 

They'll be joined by Henry Simmons (Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.); Miles Brown a.ka. Baby Boogaloo (ABC’s Black-ish); Sophina Brown (Shark; Numb3rs; The Good Wife); noted B-boy dancer Josue "Beastmode" Figueroa (Southland, STEP UP REVOLUTION); Josue Antonio (STEP UP series; The LXD); Taryn Southern (The Single Life); and Stephen “tWitch” Boss (STEP UP films; So You Think You Can Dance; MAGIC MIKE XXL).

Daniel “Malakai” Cabrera will direct.

Marriott, targeting the coveted millennial audience like many lodging companies these days, is banking that putting its brand where that audience is - entertainment, social media - will pay dividends down the road.

It's also making a big splash by becoming the first major hotel chain to join Snapchat, where its @MarriottHotels account will go live tomorrow. That social media effort includes signing up content creators with big followings on a variety of platforms, including Shaun McBride, Brittany Furlan, Casey Neistat, and the UK's Louis Cole. 

Marriott just launched a new travel and lifestyle publication on Medium.com, with a lead-off story about the construction of its new Marriott Port-au-Prince hotel in a post-earthquake Haiti. It's also sending YouTube's Vagabrothers on worldwide trip, to be documented via online videos and posts.

Expect more of this in the future, as corporations try to reach their target audiences while methods like banner ads fade in favor of sponsored content.

WASHINGTON GAS WORK AHEAD IN WOOD ACRES, GLEN COVE, CHEVY CHASE

Washington Gas is about to start a project to replace existing gas lines, and install a new gas main, on four streets in west Bethesda and Chevy Chase.

Newport Avenue and Earlston Drive will be the first two sites, at an unspecified date in the next few weeks. On Gloster Road, work will begin in late January or early February. Last will be Drummond Avenue in mid-late January.

In each case work is expected to not take longer than a few days.

Here's what's somewhat troubling about what I don't dispute is necessary work.  Gas will be off during the service replacement, (but not longer than one day, according to Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Services Center). It is the height of the holiday season, and people will be shopping, hosting Christmas parties at their homes, and traveling. This work could cause major inconveniences, and clog roadways, at least for the first two streets in question. Unless it is an emergency situation, this doesn't seem like the right time to do major utility work.

GRINGOS & MARIACHIS GETS EXTERIOR MAKEOVER IN BETHESDA (PHOTOS)

Gringos & Mariachis has a new facade design on Cordell Avenue. Gone is the awning out front, replaced with a new logo stenciled directly on the building.


P.F. CHANG'S SETS CLOSING DATE FOR WHITE FLINT MALL RESTAURANT AHEAD OF DEMOLITION

The Dark Side of White Flint, Part 33

Welcome to The Dark Side of White Flint, an ongoing series about the not-so-wonnerful,
wonnerful, wonnerful side of urbanizing the suburbs of Montgomery County.

If you're a fan of White Flint Mall like me, and the P.F. Chang's restaurant there, you'll want to stop in for dinner soon. The restaurant says it will close for good on January 4, 2015.

Gil Fornaris, Market Partner with P.F. Chang's China Bistro, said that the White Flint restaurant is thankful for the many patrons who have supported it over the last 15 years. He said those customers, who made P.F. Chang's one of the most popular dining destinations in the mall, are welcome at the chain's Chevy Chase location at 5406 Wisconsin Avenue after January 4.

In the meantime, service will continue as always at the White Flint Mall location through January 4.

Even after mall owners had made the risky bet to pull the plug on the fully-leased retail center, and redevelop it as an urban town center, P.F. Chang's remained a mainstay along with Lord & Taylor. The latter owns its mall space, and will not be included in the pending demolition. P.F. Chang's was one of several dining draws that made it difficult to find a close parking space on weekends at the mall even just a few years ago. Will that crowd return for the new development?

Although the upscale mall and its impressive architecture will be gone, P.F. Chang's is one tenant that plans to return as part of the new development on the mall site. Alas, most other tenants will not be back, having closed for good or moved to other locations. There is currently no official date for the opening of that future P.F. Chang's at the mall site.

Welcome to the Dark Side.

Go down the rabbit hole and explore the Dark Side of White Flint:

The Beginning

Dave and Buster's closes at White Flint Mall

The Veil of Death

A Classic Mall Movie Theater: The Balcony is Closed

Final Scenes from Abandoned Saab Dealership

The Final Hours of Mid-Pike Plaza

The Last Days of Toys R Us

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ROY ROGERS DOUBLE R BURGER REVIEW (VIDEO)

I stopped by the Grand Opening of the new Roy Rogers in Rockville yesterday, and made sure to order my childhood favorite at Roy's: the Double R Burger. The fixin's bar is back, but so are some things the old Roy Rogers in Bethesda never had, like the Coca Cola Freestyle soda fountain machines. That meant serving myself a refreshing Mello Yello.

Another nice touch was the prominent image of Roy Rogers himself on the wall, with his now famous Promise to customers. Some menu items have been tweaked to be more premium, such as the use of brand-name Hormel Cure 81 ham atop the Double R burger, and Edy's ice cream in the milkshakes. The flavors of the Double R, famous Roy's fried chicken, and french fries - I ordered the Holster Fries version, of course - were reassuringly familiar and delicious. What was my verdict on the 2014 Double R Burger? Watch my review to find out, and get all the details.

I expect to make many more stops at Roy Rogers, until we finally get a Roy's back in Bethesda. The River Road Roy Rogers wasn't just a childhood hangout for me, but also a regular stop for Chessie System train crews, who used to park their locomotive across from the side door, and get take out bags of Roy's before reboarding, and heading back to the Eckington yard.

Among famous names who frequented the River Road Roy Rogers? None other than Dick Dyszel, of Captain 20 and Count Gore de Vol fame at WDCA Channel 20 - located right behind Roy Rogers at the time.

MORE DETAILS ON BRIGHTVIEW ASSISTED LIVING PROJECT FOR DOWNTOWN BETHESDA (PHOTOS)

Additional details were revealed last night about the Brightview Bethesda assisted living apartment building currently proposed for 4907 Rugby Avenue. Developer Shelter Group, which is constructing a similar project in Rockville Town Center, is planning a 90' tall structure with architectural differentiation designating separate uses within the building.
View from across Del Ray Avenue
The building will include studio and 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, with annual leases and monthly service fees, a Shelter representative said at last night's presentation.

Shelter plans to present their plan to the Montgomery County Planning Board in early 2015. If approved, the company expects groundbreaking to be in 2016, with 12-15 months of construction for delivery.
Interesting detail - this rendering
includes the second Donohoe tower
planned across the pedestrian plaza
from the existing
Gallery Bethesda apartments


Display of design elements that
may be incorporated into the
Brightview project architecture

JBG UNVEILS OFFICE BUILDING PROPOSAL FOR 4733 BETHESDA AVENUE (PHOTOS)

The JBG Companies unveiled the latest iteration of a redevelopment project that's been in the works for over 7 years last night in Bethesda. A new office building is the centerpiece of a proposal for the redevelopment of an existing office building at 4733 Bethesda Avenue, and the former Thyme Square restaurant next door.
View from across Woodmont Avenue
Going with office space is fairly risky move in Montgomery County right now, with two gleaming Class A office buildings at 7550 Wisconsin and 4500 East-West Highway unable to attract the high-profile corporate tenants they had originally planned for, and both struggling to find smaller businesses to replace those larger ambitions.

Yet JBG has developed some impressive office buildings in places like Friendship Heights, and their representative last night said the firm believes downtown Bethesda is a desirable place to work. I can't argue with that statement.
Bethesda Avenue view
The new office building has some resemblance to the hotel proposal it replaces, except the alternating window sections on the side have all been slid to the far left. What was formerly Thyme Square appears to become a small building labeled "Market" in the renderings shown last night. This project will potentially be involved in the creation of an at-grade Capital Crescent Trail along Bethesda Avenue, should the Purple Line be built in the future. JBG has expressed willingness to assist in developing that cycle track, which many CCT advocates have argued will put riders and pedestrians at risk crossing Wisconsin Avenue.

Developing the office project will require demolition of the existing 4733 office structure, perhaps the tallest building ever to be demolished in downtown Bethesda, by my recollection. JBG's representative said the method of demolition has yet to be determined, but that the work will be done "very carefully." The smaller building next door will be renovated, not demolished.

JBG says that even after potential approval by the Montgomery County Planning Board, it does not expect construction to begin on this project for another 2 or 3 years. The future of the plaza between this project and the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema remains a hot topic of discussion for developers, planners, and residents.





Images courtesy The JBG Companies
All rights reserved

Monday, December 15, 2014

KRISPY KREME GLAZED PUMPKIN PIE REVIEW (VIDEO)

Krispy Kreme has a limited-time Glazed Pumpkin Pie for the holidays, which I found at Food Lion. Considering the chocolate one won the prestigious John Candy Award, expectations are high for this one. How does it compare to the John Candy Award-winner? Watch my review to find out!

Plus we check in with a Hollywood actor about the latest Sony leaked emails.

ROBBERY ON BETHESDA AVE., LIQUOR ARREST AT BARNES & NOBLE + MORE - BETHESDA CRIME UPDATE

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on December 12, according to crime data:

Theft. 4500 block Montgomery Avenue.

Liquor arrest. Barnes and Noble at Bethesda Row.

Robbery. 4700 block Bethesda Avenue.

Theft. 7100 block Exfair Road.

Assault/Rape. Suburban Hospital.

Theft. 3700 block Thornapple Street (Chevy Chase Section 5).

Theft. 5500 block Friendship Boulevard.

Theft. 4400 block S. Park Avenue.

Theft. 4400 block Willard Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 9700 block Singleton Drive.

Theft. 5200 block Tuckerman Lane.

Burglary. 4600 block Sangamore Road.

Theft. Westfield Montgomery Mall.

Theft. Macy's at Westfield Montgomery Mall.

WINNER IN ARCLIGHT CINEMAS CONTEST!

After a random drawing among entrants in last week's contest to win 2 free tickets to the new ArcLight Cinemas at Westfield Montgomery Mall, the winner is:

Douglas Fellner!

Follow Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row on Facebook for future contests, and to get breaking Bethesda news in your Facebook feed.

TOWER CRANE CONSTRUCTED AT THE LAUREN CONDO SITE IN BETHESDA (PHOTOS)

A tower crane was installed at the construction site of The Lauren ultra-luxury condos in downtown Bethesda Saturday. The installation required temporary closure of a block of Woodmont Avenue. Speaking of closure, while the construction site has a nice covered and lighted pedestrian walkway on one side, the Woodmont side's sidewalk is closed. This closure would require a permit or else it is illegal, a problem at several current downtown construction sites which the Montgomery County Council appears utterly impotent to stop.
This is how it's supposed
to be done

A well-lit, covered walkway
for pedestrians

This...not so much
#Oops



RIDE ON 23 AND 29 NOW ARRIVE AND DEPART FROM BAY H AT FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS METRO STATION

A heads-up for Bethesda commuters taking Ride On bus Route 23 (Friendship Heights Metro to Sibley Hospital) and Route 29 (Bethesda Metro-Glen Echo-Friendship Heights Metro): Both buses are now operating out of Bay H at the Friendship Heights Metro station. Metrobus E6 will now use Bay G.

The changes began yesterday.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

ARCHWAY CHERRY CHIP NOUGAT COOKIE REVIEW (VIDEO)

Today on the Christmas Countdown, I am testing a Christmas cookie from one of America's most legendary cookie companies, Archway. Still based in Ashland, in the great state of Ohio (unlike some unpatriotic companies who have shipped their cookie baking jobs to Mexico and China), Archway has a full line of holiday cookies available at Giant Food stores in Bethesda.

The first one I am trying is the Archway Cherry Chip Nougat cookie. What is a Cherry Chip Nougat? How does it taste? Watch my review to find out!

5 VEHICLES BROKEN INTO, THEFTS AT GAP AND WHITE FLINT MALL + MORE - BETHESDA CRIME UPDATE

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on December 11, according to crime data:

Theft. 7600 block Old Georgetown Road.

Theft. 7400 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 4900 block Battery Lane.

Vehicle burglary. 5000 block Bradley Boulevard.

Vehicle burglary. 5100 block Bradley Boulevard.

Theft. 5400 block Glenwood Road.

Theft. 5500 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Burglary. 8700 block Irvington Avenue.

Theft. GAP (Friendship Heights).

Vehicle burglary. 5200 block Pooks Hill Road.

Theft. 6300 block Greentree Road.

Theft. 9900 block Fleming Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. Beach Drive at Pinehurst Parkway.

Vehicle burglary. 9700 block Old Georgetown Road.

Drug arrest. Rockville Pike at Tuckerman Lane.

Theft. White Flint Mall.

BETHESDA CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: 4825 MONTGOMERY LANE LUXURY CONDOS

Here are some photos of the latest progress at the 5-story luxury condo building at 4825 Montgomery Lane. It's interesting to see how the design turns out, from a smaller developer taking on big firms like Toll Brothers and StonebridgeCarras. Each floor of this building will be a single condo, with private elevator access directly from the garage into the unit.