Thursday, March 31, 2022

Olney Chick-fil-A to change ownership

The Chick-fil-A at 18115 Georgia Avenue in Olney will enter a transition in ownership next month. Owner-operator Erik Amick is relocating to Georgia after more than four years of operation in Olney, and twelve in Montgomery County. In a Facebook post, Amick announced that Chick-fil-A will take over ownership and operations of the Olney restaurant until July, when a new owner-operator is expected to take over.

Chick-fil-A delivery service at this location will be temporarily paused during the initial handover, Amick said, and DoorDash and UberEats services may be interrupted for a time. He wrote that he will be operating a new Chick-fil-A in Pooler, Georgia.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Indecent exposure at Wheaton grocery store

Shoppers got more than they bargained for at one Wheaton grocery store early Monday morning. Montgomery County police were called to a store in the 11200 block of Georgia Avenue at 7:16 AM regarding a case of indecent exposure. The offenses widened to include obstructing officers and shoplifting, according to crime data. A Safeway store is located on that block of Georgia.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Montgomery County transit use, return to offices remains far below pre-pandemic numbers, new data show

Park use and grocery/pharmacy shopping
now less than during pandemic

New Google Mobility data show life in Montgomery County has yet to resume pre-pandemic patterns over the first three months of 2022, and some activity categories have even declined below their pandemic numbers. Transit use in the county has been even worse this year than it was last fall, dropping from 43% below early 2020 ridership numbers to 48% below in early 2022. Workers are heading back to the office only 1% more so far this year than they were last fall, with residents working on-location 30% less than during the same period before the pandemic in 2020.

Wheaton Claridge Local Park

County residents in 2022 so far are still staying home 10% more than they did in early 2020. In a troubling change, residents have actually reduced their time in parks and in grocery and drug stores. Google data during the pandemic months of 2020 and 2021 had showed residents were actually spending more time in parks, grocery stores and drug stores than they were before the pandemic. Now even those categories have gone negative.

Buses lined up at
Rockville Metro station

Residents spent 5% less time in parks between January 21 and March 4, 2022 than they did over the same period in 2020. They spent 6% less time in grocery and drug stores so far this year than they did in early 2020, which is odd considering that Covid-19 cases were way up when the year started, and shelves were bare for several weeks at grocery stores. And they've spent a whopping 30% less time in other types of retail stores and in recreation activities this year than they did in January - March 2020.

County residents spent less time
shopping at CVS Pharmacy so far
this year than they did over the same
period in 2020

The data collected by Google is limited to those users who have opted in to allowing the tech giant to track their phone's location. It measures both the frequency of visits, and the amount of time those users stay in the places categorized in the results, such as grocery stores, transit stations and parks.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Franchot, Moore tout new endorsements in Maryland governor's race

Democrats Peter Franchot and Wes Moore have announced several new endorsements in the crowded primary field of the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial race. Takoma Park resident and Maryland Comptroller Franchot has been endorsed by hospitality unions UNITE HERE Local 23 and Local 7. Among Franchot's efforts as comptroller was a successful push with Governor Larry Hogan (R) to extend the summer vacations of Maryland public school students, a boon for hotels and other businesses in travel destinations like Ocean City. Individual school systems later regained the right to set their own school opening dates each fall through action by the Democrat-controlled state legislature, rendering Hogan's executive order moot.

Wes Moore

Takoma Park native Moore's latest endorsements are from former Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Royce Hanson and Montgomery County Delegate Eric Luedtke (D - District 14). Hanson is recognized as the architect of the County's Agricultural Reserve policy, which has preserved farmland in a designated zone of the county from development. Moore is a combat veteran, former White House Fellow, bestselling author, and former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation.

Photo via

Jerry's Subs & Pizza to close in Aspen Hill and fans are snapping up the Jerry's memorabilia

Jerry's Subs & Pizza
at 13645 Connecticut Avenue in the Aspen Hill Shopping Center is closing, according to an online auction announcement. As the Gaithersburg-headquarted chain dwindles in area locations, Jerry's fans are wasting no time in grabbing the available memorabilia being auctioned off at this restaurant. 

A Jerry's sign, some cool Jerry's photo art, and a branded menu board are among the collectibles that have already been sold in the auction. The auction is scheduled to close on March 28, 2022. Virtually everything is already spoken for, however, according to the auction website.

Photos courtesy Rasmus Auctions

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Hans Riemer endorsed by Matt Yglesias for Montgomery County Executive

Journalist Matt Yglesias endorsed Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer in the Democratic primary race for County Executive Friday. In a tweet that displayed a portion of a recent blog post, Yglesias wrote, "I would vote for Hans Riemer." Yglesias, who reportedly lives in Logan Circle in the District, wrote that incumbent executive Marc Elrich (D) "is bad and people should vote against him. Hans Riemer is almost certainly the best candidate in that field."

"That field" also includes businessman David Blair, businessman Peter James (who just filed for the race yesterday), and County Councilmember Tom Hucker; no candidate of any other party affiliation has filed to run as of this morning. Yglesias also weighed in with a novel take on the Maryland governor's race, predicting Peter Franchot would top the Democratic field "based on name recognition and being white in a field with many Black candidates. And that's a shame."

A co-founder of Vox Media, Yglesias is now a columnist for Bloomberg, and publishes a subscription-based blog called Slow Boring. He is also a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Strong-arm rape reported at Aspen Hill apartment complex

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a strong-arm rape in an office/storage area of an Aspen Hill apartment complex late Wednesday night, March 23, 2022. The sexual assault was reported at an apartment building in the 4100 block of Postgate Terrace, off Georgia Avenue, at 11:04 PM, according to crime data.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Car stolen from Takoma Park gas station

Takoma Park police responded to a report of a stolen vehicle at a gas station last night, March 23, 2022. A white 2019 Subaru Crosstrek with DC tag #DROGON was taken from the Marathon station in the 6400 block of New Hampshire Avenue at 9:30 PM. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to please call the Takoma Park police department at 301-270-1100.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

MD Gov. Larry Hogan endorses Kelly Schulz for governor

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) yesterday announced he is endorsing Kelly Schulz for governor in the Republican primary currently scheduled for July 19, 2022. Schulz served in the Hogan administration for seven years, as the first female secretary of both the Department of Labor and Department of Commerce. She has also served as a state delegate to the Maryland General Assembly from Frederick County, and as a small business owner. If elected, Schulz would be the first female governor of the state.

Schulz faces fellow Republicans Delegate Dan Cox, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump; attorney and former state delegate Robin Ficker; and attorney Joe Werner in the gubernatorial primary. The Hogan endorsement's impact on the race is debatable. 

For Schulz, the support from Hogan bolsters her argument that she is the only candidate who can hold the Hogan coalition together that led him to victory twice in a blue state. Hogan said as much in his statement of endorsement Tuesday:  “If you approve of how we have led Maryland, then Kelly Schulz is your choice for governor.” 

The governor scored a major win this week in bringing a Hitachi railcar factory to economically-hard-hit Hagerstown, with 460 high-wage jobs, the first such high-profile victory in nearly two decades for the state. Hitachi's announcement puts a tangible punctuation mark on Hogan's claim to have improved Maryland's miserable business climate. Schulz noted following the announcement that she played a leading role as Secretary of Commerce in recruiting Hitachi and a new United Safety Technology manufacturing facility to the state, allowing her to now tout these wins on the stump, a powerful talking point with broad appeal to moderate Democrats and independents.

But while Hogan is more popular in majority-Democrat Maryland overall than Trump, Trump may loom larger in a GOP primary. A Gonzales poll in January showed that more Democrats approved of Hogan than Republicans statewide. Hogan clashed eagerly and regularly with Trump over the last several years, angering many Republicans in the state.

While Schulz has led in fundraising, her campaign has unleashed increasingly-negative attacks on Cox in recent weeks, via online ads and surrogates. Either Cox remains a significant concern, or Schulz is not taking any chances. 

Ficker and Werner have stayed out of the fray. Ficker has focused on his proposal to reduce the state sales tax by two cents, and Werner has balanced conservative positions on social issues with a pro-business-growth message. Cox has fought Hogan's pandemic restrictions and mandates, such as business closures, going as far as suing the governor at one point. He and his supporters are likely shedding no tears over an endorsement snub by Hogan.

Pepco makes donation to Montgomery College

has made a donation to Montgomery College, as part of a $650,000 package of donations to local community colleges and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The money will go to workforce development in the energy field, teacher training and scholarships, the Exelon-owned utility announced in a press release. Montgomery College has campuses in Rockville, Germantown and Takoma Park.

“We hope this funding helps open the door to educational opportunities that all too often are just a dream for many young people within our communities,” Rodney Oddoye, Senior Vice-President of Governmental, External and Regulatory Affairs for Pepco Holdings, said in a statement. “Through our partnerships with local community colleges, HBCUs, and workforce development programs like the DC Infrastructure Academy, we are not only expanding the possibilities for our youth, we are building the talent pool for the future energy workforce.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The "Silver Springs" effect ensnares another pop star

Is it impossible to believe there could have been just a single, silvery spring? Many tourists, and even some locals, find it hard to fathom. Instead of taking the "S" and throwing it away like Mash's ham, they feel the need to add it to the end, and call it "Silver Springs." Consider it our local Mandela Effect, and it caused some forehead-slapping realizations late Monday night for the latest pop star to fall victim to it.

"Wow ok just found out I was calling Silver Spring, MD tonight Silver Springs - plural - all night...Damn. I'm sorry silver spring(!)," JoJo tweeted at 11:49 PM last night. She had just performed at The Fillmore in downtown Silver Spring. As some fans noted in their replies, Stevie Nicks more famously added the "s" in the title of her song, "Silver Springs," after seeing a sign mentioning "Silver Spring" on the Capital Beltway leaving a show at the Capital Centre in Landover.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Sligo Creek Parkway closure today

Part of Sligo Creek Parkway will be closed to traffic today until 3:00 PM, as a Pepco contracter removes a dead tree. The closure will be in the vicinity of 803 Sligo Creek Parkway. Takoma Park police say there's a possibility the crew could be finished before 3:00.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Target exterior renovations underway at Wheaton Plaza (Photos)

A significant store renovation and update began recently at Target in Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. The work has now extended to the exterior of the building. As a prominent sign attempts to make clear, Target remains open during the renovations, although some departments will be temporarily or permanently relocated inside the store.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Sign installed at Willie T's/Be Right Burger in Montgomery Hills (Photos)

The sign is up at Willie T's Seafood Shack and Be Right Burger at 9326 Georgia Avenue in the Montgomery Hills area of Silver Spring. Last night it was already lit. A construction crew was working into the night inside the space both restaurants will share. Will BRB have that special Texas Luau Burger when they open here? Stay tuned!

Jongro BBQ opens in Wheaton

The openings are coming fast and furious at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall this week. Jongro BBQ was open for business last night, even though there was no official announcement by the mall. The new restaurant offers premium cuts of meat - delivered fresh daily - to cook at your table, alongside traditional Korean dishes. Banchan you might order with your meat include kimchi, sliced jalapenos, clay pot-cooked egg, and stew. A great dining addition to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Hook & Reel now open in Wheaton

Hook & Reel
is now open at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. To celebrate the grand opening week, diners will get 15% off their check (and a free Hook & Reel t-shirt if their order is more than $30) through March 21, 2022. Operating hours are 12:00 PM - 10:00 PM Sunday - Thursday, and 12:00 PM - 11:30 PM Friday - Saturday. The Cajun seafood boil restaurant's menu can be seen here, and online ordering for pickup and delivery is available.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Terra Mare Restaurant & Bar to open in Wheaton

Terra Mare
, an Italian restaurant and bar, is taking over the Intipuqueno Restaurant space at 2504 Ennalls Avenue in Wheaton. The space fronts onto the Montgomery County Ennalls Lot Public Parking Lot 34. All of the owners are county residents. Terra Mare is aiming for a May 1, 2022 opening.

Monday, March 14, 2022

BabyCat Brewery and beer garden to open in Kensington

BabyCat Brewery will open this fall at 10241 Kensington Parkway, behind the shopping center and post office there. Local residents Sam Mussomeli and Terry Redmond are the co-founders of the brewery, which will include a taproom and a beer garden. They have been experimenting and coming up with beers that may appear on the final list since last year, including The Catnip Bender, brewed with Idaho 7, Ekuanot, and Citra hops; an oatmeal milk stout; the On the Prowl IPA (6% ABV); and the Put It on My Tabby lager (4% ABV). Craft beer aficionados in the region may have already had a chance to sample some of these at events where BabyCat had a tent or table over the last year.

As all of the cat themes might suggest, pets were one inspiration for the venture. Mussmeli and Redmond aim to create a community brewery, featuring food from local restaurateurs and food trucks, and live entertainment by local musicians. BabyCat is expected to open in November 2022.

Logo courtesy BabyCat Brewery

Friday, March 11, 2022

Winter weather advisory issued for Montgomery County Saturday

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory that includes Montgomery County for tomorrow, Saturday, March 12, 2022, from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Accuweather and the NWS are forecasting a potential accumulation of 1-to-2 inches of snow. 

While snow is not expected to accumulate by any significant degree on roads and sidewalks, due to warmer temperatures, they will still be slippery from mixed precipitation. Winds may gust up to 50 MPH, causing trees and limbs to fall, and power outages. 

Rain is expected to begin after midnight tonight, and turn to snow around 10:00-11:00 AM Saturday. The temperature will steadily drop throughout the day on Saturday, reaching a brutal low of 19 degrees at 6:00 AM Sunday, with potential for icy spots on wet surfaces. 

Image courtesy National Weather Service

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Guavaberry opens in downtown Silver Spring

Guavaberry Dominican Restaurant
is now open at 8417 Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. As you might expect from the name, the cuisine is traditional Dominican. Dishes on the menu include Sancocho, Mangu, Tostones, and Picaderas, to name a few. Reservations can be made online through the restaurant's website.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Rue 21 "coming soon" to Wheaton (Photos)

Back in October, I broke the news that Rue 21 would be returning to Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. The fast fashion apparel chain is making it official now, by installing some "Coming Soon" signage over the future storefront. 

Unlike many apparel brands, Rue 21 did well during the pandemic, a sales growth driven by its denim line and a focus on Gen Z trends. As a result, the chain is in the enviable position of opening new stores, rather than downsizing like many of its competitors.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Car stolen from Takoma Park gas station

Takoma Park police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from a gas station in the city early yesterday morning. The car was reported stolen from a gas station in the 6900 block of New Hampshire Avenue at 4:45 AM, according to crime data.

Wheaton Target renovations underway (Photos)

The Target at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall is the big box chain's latest in Montgomery County to get a renovation. Some departments are shifting around during the work. Consult the floor maps pictured below, or check your Target app for this store, to see what the temporary configuration is for the department or item you are searching for. This Target is also adding drive-up Starbucks orders (nice!) and drive-up item returns.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Jongro BBQ at Wheaton Plaza update (Photos)

Here's a look at the progress inside Jongro BBQ at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. Taking over the space where Tilted Kilt aspired to - but failed to - open, Jongro has been in the works since last May. As you can see, the permanent sign has been installed, and is already lit. Look closely at the dining tables, and you can see where the grills will be placed to cook the various cuts of meat right in front of you. Jongro is expected to open this month, according to Westfield.