Monday, May 31, 2021

Jongro BBQ coming to Wheaton Plaza

One of South Korea's elite restaurant chains is coming to Wheaton Plaza this year. Jongro BBQ will open a location in the space that Tilted Kilt never quite managed to open in a few years ago. Mall operator Westfield has posted "coming soon" signage in the window there, and has added Jongro BBQ to the "Restaurants" sign of honor on the parking deck. Along with the arrival of Jollibee and (in the near future) Sydney's Burger, the dining scene at the mall is greatly improving after the disappointing pullouts of the Kilt, Olive Garden (which never even began construction), and Bar Louie.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Montgomery County Council approves FY-2022 budget with property tax increase

Property taxes will increase for almost all Montgomery County residents in the fiscal year starting July 1, 2021, under the $6 billion FY-2022 budget approved by the County Council yesterday. The tax hike comes at a time when many residents and businesses have been struggling during the pandemic's economic downturn. 

Also hitting residents' wallets in the budget: parking fee increases in Bethesda and Wheaton, and the expansion of parking enforcement hours in Silver Spring and Wheaton, which will begin in January 2022. All nine councilmembers voted unanimously to approve the budget and tax increase.

Hug Lounge opening today in Silver Spring

Hug Lounge
will open today at 10:00 AM at 949 Bonifant Street in downtown Silver Spring. The Ethiopian lounge and restaurant was originally expected to open last fall. Hug will host the annual All White Affair tomorrow, Saturday, May 29, 2021 from 4:00-10:00 PM. That event will offer VIP bottle service, a rarity in Montgomery County's moribund nightlife scene.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

McDonald's BTS Meal arrives in Montgomery County (Video+Photos)

The McDonald's BTS Meal officially arrived nationwide yesterday. In partnership with the K-pop boy band, the meal includes a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, a medium Coca-Cola, and two sauce packets: Cajun and Sweet Chili. 

While most media outlets have lauded the sauces as both being new to the United States, McDonald's actually offered Sweet Chili sauce some years back. The Cajun sauce is brand new, however. Watch my in-depth review on YouTube.

BTS fans have reacted enthusiastically to the promotion on social media, but there has been significant dissatisfaction among them that McDonald's did not provide BTS-branded packaging for the meal nor any BTS-themed prize, cards or toys in the United States. Some overseas countries have received special packaging for their BTS meals, which led some fans to ask why an American restaurant chain did not provide this BTS packaging for its American customers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Dog Haus Biergarten "coming soon" in Silver Spring (Photos)

Some "coming soon" signage has been posted in the windows of the future Dog Haus Biergarten at Downtown Silver Spring. The restaurant will be in the former Lebanese Taverna space on Ellsworth Drive.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Popeyes construction begins in downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

is moving into Silver Spring in a big way. New locations are planned downtown, and in the Briggs Chaney area. Construction has finally begun on the downtown Silver Spring location, which is at 8401 Georgia Avenue, at Bonifant Street. Contractor Itek Construction is handling the job here.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Friday, May 21, 2021

F45 Training coming to Silver Spring

F45 Training
, a fitness studio chain that counts actor Mark Wahlberg among its investors, is bringing one of its gyms to downtown Silver Spring. It will be in the ground floor of the Solaire 8250 Georgia apartment building, in the space next to Spice Street. Construction is now underway on the interior.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Wet paint at Downtown Silver Spring as Ellsworth Place reverts to pedestrian street

Police-style tape and barrels roped off a section of Ellsworth Drive yesterday at Downtown Silver Spring. New art just painted onto the street was drying. The colorful design comes as the street transitions to pedestrian-only use for the summer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Takoma Park residents can vote on new playground design for Hillwood Manor park

Montgomery Parks is seeking feedback from residents on two potential playground designs for Hillwood Manor Neighborhood Park at 1301 Elson Street in Takoma Park. Review the two concepts, and vote for your favorite of the two, on the Montgomery Parks website. Currently, the park features its existing playground, a basketball court, picnic benches, and a flowing creek.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Two cars stolen in Olney

Two auto thefts were reported to Montgomery County police in the same area of Olney yesterday. Vehicles were taken from homes in the 18000 block of Rocky Ridge Lane and 18400 block of Queen Elizabeth Drive, according to crime data. Valuables were also stolen from a vehicle parked in the driveway of a home in the 3800 block of Gelding Lane.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Strong-arm robbery in New Hampshire Estates area of Silver Spring

Montgomery County police were called to the scene of a strong-arm robbery in the New Hampshire Estates area of Silver Spring last Friday afternoon. The robbery was reported in the 800 block of University Boulevard E. around 5:47 PM, according to crime data. It occurred outside on the street.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Gas shortages, lines persist in Montgomery County

Despite the efforts of officials at all levels of government to downplay the Colonial Pipeline crisis, many gas stations across Montgomery County were still out of fuel yesterday, while others hosted lines of vehicles stretching out onto the roadways. Some stations switched their digital price signs to all zeros. 

Gas pumps at the Westbard Citgo station in Bethesda were roped off with yellow tape Thursday afternoon. Several stations on nearby River Road were dark last night, but drivers were able to queue up at the Shell station at 5110 River Road. Long lines were seen at gas stations at the Montgomery Village Center on Montgomery Village Avenue, and along Rockville Pike, as well.

Maryland Comptroller and Montgomery County resident Peter Franchot appeared unaware of the number of stations sold-out of gas, when he told The Washington Post that he doubted the gas app tallies of dry-tank stations across the state, arguing that the actual number was lower. Many media reports cited average prices significantly lower than what drivers were actually paying in Montgomery County yesterday. 

Although the Colonial Pipeline has been restarted after the owners reportedly paid a $5 million dollar ransom, it is taking time to restock stations. Some station managers reported receiving smaller amounts of gas than they would usually get per truck.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ruins of the Wheaton Howard Johnson Motor Lodge garage, pool deck (Photos)

The former Howard Johnson Motor Lodge (later a Best Western and the Ambassador Apartments) and restaurant structures at the corner of University Boulevard W. and Veirs Mill Road in Wheaton were demolished last year. But a few architectural relics remain on the site. Here are some photos of the motel's parking garage and pool deck, which remain standing. 

According to historical promotional materials for this Howard Johnson, it was free to park in this garage. Besides the pool, other amenities included air conditioning, "ice," TV, radio, "direct dial phone," roller and ice skating(!), sauna baths. Swanky transportation was also at hand, as "limousines stop from all major airports." Definitely a Thursday Throwback to the golden age of Wheaton and Montgomery County! Now, the property is the future site of the Wheaton Gateway development.