Friday, April 30, 2021

High winds cause power outages in Silver Spring, Wheaton, Kensington, Colesville, Kemp MIll

Hundreds of Pepco customers in eastern Montgomery County are without power as gusty winds buffet the DC metro area. High winds with gusts into the 50 MPH range are possible through early Saturday morning.

The largest power outage is in the area around Wheaton Regional Park, where 302 customers are in the dark at this hour. Pepco estimates power will be restored there by 9:00 PM tonight.  Less than five customers are currently impacted by an outage in the Kemp Mill neighborhood. Similar small-scale outages are currently being reported in Kensington, the Goodacre Knolls/Long Branch area of Silver Spring, and Colesville.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Olazzo to close in Silver Spring

Here's some really bad news for diners in Silver Spring: Olazzo will close its Silver Spring location at 8235 Georgia Avenue at the end of this week, the owners have announced on Facebook. The only consolation I can offer is that Olazzo's Bethesda location will continue to operate at 7921 Norfolk Avenue, in downtown Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Takoma Streetery adds tables topped with art by Trap Bob

Diners at the Takoma Streetery at the intersection of Laurel and Carroll Avenues in Takoma Park are being greeted by a brightly-colored addition to the pedestrian and dining area. Picnic tables have been decorated with art by Trap Bob, a Washington, D.C. artist. The images depict the power and resilience of black women, whom the artist illustrates as "everyday superheroes" in these works sponsored by the City of Takoma Park's Arts and Humanities Division.

Photos courtesy City of Takoma Park

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Signs of activity at iPic, Regal theaters even as MoCo ban on food, drink sales remains in place

There's no indication Montgomery County's ban on concessions sales at movie theaters will be lifted anytime soon, but a couple of theater chains are showing signs of preparing for reopening. Regal Cinemas already announced a tentative reopening date for its Montgomery County cineplexes next month, in an apparent gamble that the ban on the sale of food and drink will be lifted by then. Workers began sprucing up the exterior of the Regal Cinemas Majestic & IMAX theater in downtown Silver Spring on Monday. And iPic at Pike & Rose is now hiring servers for its in-movie food and drink service, a clear indication that the luxury theater chain believes the ban will be revoked in the coming weeks.

Tarps on the sidewalk outside the Regal Cinemas
Majestic & IMAX theater in Silver Spring, where
workers are touching up the exterior

However, a list of potential steps in loosening restrictions at County businesses released by the County Council does not specifically mention movie theaters or performance venues - nor the ban on food and drink - among the relaxed rules. Only at Phase 3, which will be reached when 50% of the county population is fully vaccinated, could theaters sell food and drink because the County will belatedly adopt the current state guidelines at that point. Under the current ban, which eliminates the most profitable revenue source for theaters, only AMC has reopened its theaters in the county.

Burtonsville Dunkin' renovation planned

Significant interior renovations are ahead for the Dunkin' located at 15640 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville. New ceilings, new walls and kitchen changes are among the alterations planned for the coming months. The popular donut and coffee chain has been updating stores across the country in recent years.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Two indecent exposure incidents in Aspen Hill last Thursday

Montgomery County police responded to two indecent exposure incidents in Aspen Hill last Thursday, April 22, 2021. The first call came from a pharmacy in the 13700 block of Connecticut Avenue around 9:08 AM. Later, a second indecent exposure incident was reported at a laundromat in the 13600 block of Georgia Avenue around 6:14 PM. An 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at a laundromat on the same block this past February.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Blumen Lumen interactive art installation opens at Downtown Silver Spring (Video+Photos)

"Blumen Lumen," a 25-foot-tall interactive art installation at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road at Downtown Silver Spring has made its official debut. Its movements and colors are influenced by the weather, the time of day, and even by the voices of people around it on the ground. The lighted, kinetic origami sculpture was created by internationally-renowned art collective FoldHaus.

Already, the installation is turning heads of shoppers, diners, drivers and pedestrians. "It’s uplifting —something that we think everyone can use right now," Peterson Cos. President of Retail Paul Weinschenk said yesterday. Along with partner Foulger-Pratt, Peterson Cos. is spending $10 million to revitalize its already-popular Downtown Silver Spring development. 

Peterson has also created a charitable tie-in to celebrate Blumen Lumen's debut. Purchase a Bouquet of Gratitude on the Downtown Silver Spring website, and $25 will go to Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center Foundation in recognition of the efforts of frontline medical personnel over the last year.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Regal Cinemas sets reopening date for Regal Majestic & IMAX in Silver Spring

Montgomery County movie theaters have remained almost entirely dark since the County lifted the ban on movies, primarily due to the County banning the sale of food and drink at cineplexes to ensure patrons do not remove their masks indoors. AMC has been the only chain willing to reopen its two Montgomery County locations so far, somehow affording to do so while forgoing the concessions sales where theaters make most of their profits. Now, Regal Cinemas is either going to accept that scary revenue picture, or the chain is gambling that the ban might be lifted a month from now.

Regal Cinemas Germantown
is now scheduled to reopen on May 14, 2021, the company has announced. A week later on May 21, Regal Cinemas Rockville Center in Rockville Town Center and Silver Spring Majestic & IMAX in downtown Silver Spring will reopen.

The announcement notes, however, that these dates could change depending on "unique circumstances" at each location. We will find out soon enough if a ban on food and drink concessions is a "unique circumstance," or if the chain has simply agreed to accept a low-or-no profit operating mode.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Construction continues at Kaldi's Social House in Silver Spring (Video)

The roof-raising project at Kaldi's Social House in downtown Silver Spring has taken longer than originally expected. Kaldi's now expects to reopen April 30, 2021, a couple of weeks after the original reopening date. Yesterday, the cafe and nightspot was a very active construction site, with workers welding on the second floor.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Wheaton beer & wine convenience store for sale

Kiss and Ride Convenience
, a convenience store selling beer & wine at 2398 Reedie Drive in Wheaton, is for sale. The store is in a prime location atop the Wheaton Metro station alongside busy Georgia Avenue.

According to the online sale listing, the asking price is $125,000 plus inventory. The current lease for the store runs through April 2035.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Downtown Silver Spring Exxon pumping gas Sunoco

Gas is pumping again at the (now former) Exxon station at 8384 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring. A project to replace the pumps was started last November. Now the pump area has reopened with new pumps, but pumping Sunoco-brand gas. Ironically, a downtown Bethesda Sunoco switched to Exxon last year.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Demand for movies appears strong at AMC Wheaton 9 cineplex

Continuing my coverage of movie theaters struggling to reopen in Montgomery County, I stopped by the AMC Wheaton 9 cineplex at Wheaton Plaza, one of only two theaters currently open in the county (the other being AMC's theater at Rio Lakefront in Gaithersburg). Are people ready to return to theaters? Apparently so. 

The 7:45 PM showing of the blockbuster Godzilla vs. Kong tonight was already sold out last evening. Regal Cinemas, Landmark, iPic, Cinepolis and other chain theaters remain dark across the county, due to the County ban on sales of food and drink at movie theaters.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Assault at Silver Spring grocery store

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an aggravated assault at a grocery store in Silver Spring Monday afternoon. The incident occurred at the Safeway at 909 Thayer Avenue around 3:11 PM, according to crime data.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Montgomery County ban on movie concessions keeping theaters dark

Montgomery County lifted its order shuttering movie theaters several weeks ago, allowing audiences at limited capacities, but almost all cineplexes remain dark across the county. What's going on? The major sticking point is that the County Council forbid the sales of food and drink at all movie theaters, requiring patrons to remain masked throughout the screening with no refreshments. Theaters make the majority of their profits from these lobby concessions sales, not from the movie tickets themselves.

The announcement that ArcLight Cinemas is closing permanently at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda brought fresh attention to the state of cinema countywide yesterday. Marquees and screens are still dark, with the notable exception of AMC's theaters at Rio Lakefront and Wheaton Plaza. Major chain theaters like Regal Cinemas, iPic and Landmark are not joining them. 

A spokesperson for Cinépolis USA, which opened a theater in the Kentlands area of Gaithersburg only a month before the pandemic hit America, confirmed Tuesday that the County order remains the barrier to reopening. When the ban on food and drink sales is lifted, the Kentlands theater will reopen immediately, the spokesperson said.

It's a dark time, indeed, for movies in Montgomery County. Bethesda is in the worst situation of all. Thanks to the County Council's decision nearly a decade ago to approve demolition of the Regal Cinemas Bethesda 10 without requiring a replacement cineplex, the closures of Regal, ArcLight and AMC Mazza Gallerie give Bethesda the rare distinction of being a large American town without a mainstream cineplex (Landmark Bethesda Row - which also remains closed - does not screen mainstream blockbusters). Some say the age of a night at the movies is over, but Godzilla vs. Kong box office numbers showed interest in movie theaters remains strong nationally, and worldwide.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Armed robbery at White Oak apartment building

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery at an apartment complex in the White Oak area of Silver Spring yesterday morning. The robbery was reported inside an apartment building in the 11400 block of Columbia Pike around 11:16 AM Monday morning, according to crime data. A firearm was the weapon used in the robbery.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Why is an Acme truck going into a Silver Spring Safeway? (Photos)

An Acme truck squeezes into the
909 Thayer Avenue Safeway store in
Silver Spring

The invasion of the Acme trucks into Montgomery County began last fall. But what are they doing here? There are no Acme grocery stores in Montgomery County! And why is an Acme truck going into my neighborhood Safeway's loading dock?

An Acme 18-wheeler heading south on
Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda

Three things have brought the great Acme fleets to places like Bethesda and Silver Spring, even though neither has an Acme store. First, Acme's parent company bought Safeway about seven years ago. Then, last year, that company merged Mid-Atlantic Safeway operations into the Acme unit headquartered in Pennsylvania. Finally, the Safeway distribution center on Leeland Road in Upper Marlboro was shuttered, and its operations relocated to - not surprisingly - Pennsylvania.

Silver Spring

So your Safeway groceries are now being trucked in from Acme's distribution center in Pennsylvania. That is a larger, mechanized distribution center near Lancaster. Thus, you are seeing Acme trucks hauling those groceries in many cases.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Car stolen in Silver Spring

Montgomery County police investigated a report of a stolen car just off of Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring yesterday afternoon. The vehicle taken was parked along the street in the 2100 block of Medical Park Drive, just south of Dennis Avenue, according to crime data.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

La Colombiana restaurant to return in Wheaton

Good news for fans of Colombian cuisine in Wheaton. The return of La Colombiana at 11216 Grandview Avenue is in the works. Operating hours will be 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Stay tuned for an opening date.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

J. Hollinger's steakhouse coming to Silver Spring

Sizzling steaks are returning to the ground floor of the Lee Building in downtown Silver Spring. Award-winning restaurateur Jerry Hollinger will be opening J. Hollinger's, a traditional steakhouse with a full bar in the landmark building at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road. 

Hollinger is also behind two other popular Montgomery County ventures, The Daily Dish and The Dish & Dram. J. Hollinger's could open as soon as this month. Steak fanatics have made the Lee Building their destination in the not-so-distant past, when it was home to Ray's The Classics, and later simply, The Classics.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Strong-arm robbery at Burtonsville grocery store

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a strong-arm robbery at a grocery store in Burtonsville last Friday night. The robbery was reported at or outside of a supermarket in the 15600 block of Old Columbia Pike around 9:48 PM Friday, according to crime data.

Monday, April 5, 2021

25' luminous kinetic art installation coming to Downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

Downtown Silver Spring is about to add one of the most unique - if not the most unique - displays of art in Montgomery County. By height alone, at 25' tall, it will stand out at the corner of heavily-traveled Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road. But the FoldHaus-designed piece will also light up spectacularly, and those lights will be animated - as will be the flowers themselves.

Luminescent, animated "flowers" under
construction at artists' workshop

The movements of the flowers will be governed by the weather. Official, real-time weather data from the National Weather Service will determine whether the flower petals are open or closed. This adds a hometown element to the installation, as the NWS is headquartered in downtown Silver Spring. The installation, just one part of a multimillion dollar renovation of the Peterson Cos. property, will officially open to the public on April 15, 2021.

Photos courtesy Peterson Cos.