Friday, September 30, 2022

Rumi Life opens at Wheaton Plaza

Rumi Life
has opened at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. It is a lifestyle store. specializing in products from around the world with an emphasis on minimalist design and affordable prices. Rumi's "Three Cs" mantra prizes the creative, the comfortable and the convenient in both merchandise and lifestyle. Look for Rumi Life on Level 2, next to Shoe Stars.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Willie T's Seafood Shack/Be Right Burger update in Silver Spring (Photos)

The watch is still on for the opening of Willie T's Seafood Shack and brb Be Right Burger at 9326 Georgia Avenue, in the Montgomery Hills area of Silver Spring. It looks like parts of the restaurant interior have been demo'd since my last update. There is some insulation awaiting installation in the kitchen area, the ceiling has been opened up in one spot, and the main counter looks like a work still in progress, as do the walls. I wouldn't expect an opening to be imminent here, so stay tuned!

Hurricane Ian remnants to impact Montgomery County sooner than expected

The worst of Hurricane Ian may have already passed in Florida, but the now-Tropical Storm is expected to make a speedy trip up the East Coast, including a jaunt out to sea and another landfall somewhere in the South. Yesterday, Ian's timetable for arrival in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and North Virginia area began to look like it was slipping from early next week to this weekend. Now, Accuweather is forecasting the first rains of Ian to arrive in the Mid-Atlantic as early as tomorrow. 

Tropical rain showers are now expected all weekend, and showers may continue from Monday into Wednesday. This does not look good for events like Taste of Bethesda this Saturday. Rain associated with Ian will arrive well ahead of the actual storm center, which is expected to pass through Maryland sometime Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Ian has further business south of here first, however. After crawling across mainland Florida, the storm will go back over the Atlantic, and make another landfall tomorrow evening. Accuweather currently predicts Ian's landfall will be somewhere near the border of Georgia and South Carolina Friday night; the National Hurricane Center's prediction is for a landfall in South Carolina. 

The full impact of Ian's second landfall, and the strength of the storm's remnants when it arrives here in the D.C. area, will be determined by how long it drifts over the waters of the Atlantic prior to Friday night's landfall. The National Hurricane Center says the storm could again near hurricane strength as it approaches land.

Ian already has shown plenty of destructive power after making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. Over 2 million utility customers in Florida are currently without electricity. Accuweather reports that every customer in Hardee County, Florida is in the dark. Part of the Sanibel Causeway collapsed, the only bridge between Sanibel Island and mainland Florida. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this morning that helicopter rescues are being performed on barrier islands by the Coast Guard and Florida National Guard. He said 100 portable cell towers are being set up to restore some level of phone service, and that power line infrastructure in the hardest hit areas would in some cases have to be entirely rebuilt. Pine Island Bridge, like the Sanibel Causeway, is damaged and impassable, he added.

Fox Weather reports that there are believed to be hundreds of fatalities in Lee County, Florida, according to the sheriff there. Accuweather reports one confirmed death in Florida from Hurricane Ian, a 72-year-old man in Deltona. He slipped down a hill behind his home into a flooding drainage ditch while trying to drain his pool as the storm approached his area at 1:00 AM this morning. Fox Weather also reports Ian has caused a 200-year flood event in Orlando. More than a foot of rain has fallen on the city.

DeSantis said his state has all of the supplies it needs for storm victims. "It's much better to donate financially, rather than sending items. We've got a lot of items," he said at a news conference this morning. Those seeking to help storm victims displaced in Florida can have the greatest impact by donating funds at, or text DISASTER to 20222, he said. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis said the fund has already raised $1.6 million in the last 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Ian's current location is 40 miles east of Orlando, the National Hurricane Center reports. Its current maximum sustained winds are at 65 MPH, and it is moving NE at 8 MPH.

Graphic courtesy

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wheaton Target new exterior entrance nearing completion (Photos)

You soon won't have to enter Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall to enter the Target store there. A new exterior entrance that is part of the major renovations to the store is now in an advanced stage of construction. Registers on the main level were relocated to line up with the new configuration. The store makeover has been underway since March.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Sneak peek: Kusshi Sushi at Downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

Here's a sneak peek at the interior of Kusshi Sushi, opening soon at 8512 Fenton Street at Downtown Silver Spring. They are just waiting on final permit approvals from Montgomery County. Kusshi has two other area locations, the original at Pike & Rose, and their most recent addition at Pentagon Row in Arlington.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Armed carjacking in downtown Silver Spring

The latest armed carjacking in Silver Spring took place at a Montgomery County-operated downtown parking garage on Saturday afternoon, September 24, 2022. Montgomery County police responded to a report of a carjacking at the garage in the 8500 block of Cameron Street at 2:30 PM Saturday. That is the Cameron Street Public Parking Garage 7.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Crack cocaine bust at Quality Inn in Takoma Park

Takoma Park police announced the arrest of a Washington, D.C. man in possession of crack cocaine at the Quality Inn hotel at 7411 New Hampshire Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. Hugh M. Dennis, Jr. 59, was being held by a Prince George's County police gang unit detective at the hotel at 3:00 PM that day. Dennis was transferred into the custody of Takoma Park police when they arrived at the hotel.

Based upon the amount of crack allegedly found on Dennis' person during a search, police have charged him with possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) Crack Cocaine with the intent to distribute, and possession of CDS paraphernalia.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

First tenants announced for Commas food hall at Ellsworth Place in Silver Spring

Cana Development has announced the first of 12 tenants for its Commas food hall, opening next spring at Ellsworth Place mall in Silver Spring. In contrast to the typical mall food court, the focus will be on small, local businesses as opposed to national chain brands. Commas will be located on Level 3 of the mall.

Tokoa is a cheesesteak and burger concept founded by Evelyn Cruz and Delmy Hernandez. Diners will find traditional cheesesteaks alongside more novel options like cheese-stuffed burgers or spicy cheesesteaks.

Father and son team José and José Tovar will open a new outpost for J&J Mex-Taqueria here. They have been serving authentic Mexican cuisine in the area since 2015.

DMV Empanadas has been serving "the best empanadas in the DMV" at farmers markets in the area since 2014. They more recently opened a bricks and mortar location in Gaithersburg, making Commas their second such venture.

Finally, Silver Spring residents may already be familiar with Trini Vybez as a food truck, or from area farmers markets. Natalia Kalloo will be expanding her popular Trinidadian cuisine business indoors now, as well. 

Rendering courtesy GrizForm Design Architects 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Armed robbery in Rosemary Hills

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery in the Rosemary Hills area of Silver Spring early yesterday morning, September 20, 2022. The robbery was reported on Rosemary Hills Drive at 2:04 AM Tuesday. That is in the vicinity of the Barrington apartments.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Owners of All Set Restaurant & Bar buy Fryer's Roadside in Silver Spring

Chef Ed Reavis and Jennifer Meltzer, owners of All Set Restaurant & Bar in downtown Silver Spring, announced Monday that they have purchased Fryer's Roadside at 12830 New Hampshire Avenue. The sale closed Saturday, September 17, according to a press release from the partners. They plan to temporarily close Fryer's, and reopen the fried chicken restaurant later this fall. This is Reavis and Meltzer's third venture, joining All Set and Money Muscle BBQ. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Free Original Pancake Bowl for first 100 in line Tuesday at Flip'd by IHOP in Silver Spring

Flip'd by IHOP
will host its grand opening tomorrow morning, September 20, 2022 at 6:00 AM at 8537 Georgia Avenue at Downtown Silver Spring. The first 100 customers in line will receive a free Original Pancake Bowl. Emily Sklar of Hot 99.5 FM will be broadcasting live from the new fast casual restaurant from 8:00 - 10:00 AM.  Flip'd by IHOP is a new take-out oriented concept from IHOP with a menu that focuses on pancakes, burritos, breakfast bowls and beverages.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Four Corners Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins to celebrate grand opening September 17

The new Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins store at 115 University Boulevard W. in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring will celebrate its arrival with a grand opening celebration tomorrow, Saturday, September 17, 2022, starting at 9:00 AM. Be one of the first 100 guests, and you will receive free Dunkin' coffee or free Baskin Robbins ice cream scoops for a year. Everyone will have a chance to win other prizes when the Dunkin' Prize Wheel spins between 9:00 and 11:00 AM.

Special guests will include Dunkin' mascot Cuppy, and franchisee Jesse Luis of the The Luis Group, who will cut the ribbon at 10:00 AM. The 2400 square foot store employees two dozen people, and features the brand's latest modern and energy-efficient design. Like all of Dunkin's new stores in Montgomery County, it offers the Premium Pours tap system, and a special area for pick-up orders.

The store will be open seven days a week from 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM. There is indoor seating with free WiFi, and best of all, the store has a drive-thru!

Photo courtesy The Luis Group

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Montgomery County Executive, Civic Federation call on County Council to disapprove Thrive 2050 plan

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) and the Montgomery County Civic Federation have both asked the County Council to disapprove the controversial Thrive 2050 growth plan. Elrich wrote in a memo to councilmembers that a new consultant report underscored his previous concern that there was insufficient outreach to residents of color, and of lower-income levels. He also noted that a survey touted by Thrive 2050 proponents used deceptive questions that referred to end goals of the plan, without disclosing the new zoning changes that would be implemented to achieve them.

Elrich advised the Council to put its political interests in passing Thrive 2050 before the November election aside, in favor of more outreach, and incorporation of more than 65 changes recommended by the consultant to prevent gentrification and displacement of residents of color and lower incomes. These proposed changes include Community Benefit Agreements, rent-to-own programs, and constructing more parks in areas that fit those demographics. Elrich said disapproving the current plan would also allow time for further public hearings.

A major complaint of Thrive 2050 detractors from the beginning has been the impression that the plan was rammed through by the County Planning Board while the general public was distracted by the pandemic. The most controversial aspect is that the plan would allow construction of multifamily housing in existing single-family home neighborhoods. This would drastically change the character of those neighborhoods, while the resulting attached housing units would be too expensive to help address the perceived lack of affordable housing in the county. 

Thousands of new housing units have come online countywide since 2014, but that surge in inventory has had no downward effect on prices. As volume increases, home prices and rents have only gone upward, creating skepticism that Thrive 2050's massive construction scheme will make housing affordable. In fact, based on the data of the last decade, it would likely only jack up prices further. If new townhomes sell for over $1 million in an industrial area of 20816, how much would a new larger duplex unit sell for in the same desirable zip code? Not less.

The resolution passed by the Civic Federation addressed many of the same concerns Elrich raised, as well as environmental sustainability and the need for broad community support for master plans. Thrive 2050 supporters have dismissed that idea, arguing that despite their six-and-seven figure investments in a SFH-neighborhood environment, County home buyers should have no say or leverage in the zoning or development of any property besides their own. 

New chapters should be added on each of the topics that the consulting team determined were shortchanged in the current draft, the Federation advised, including environmental, racial equity and social justice issues. A new public hearing should be held on each of those new chapters, its resolution added. The Federation also opposes universal upzoning and by-right zoning changes implemented through the controversial Zoning Text Amendment process, and notes that the consultant report suggests that a legitimate process to address the areas of concern it identified would take at least one year.

Other concerns that have been expressed throughout the Thrive 2050 process have included school overcrowding, loss of green space and tree canopy, inadequate parking spaces for the higher neighborhood densities proposed, and whether the existing infrastructure such as water and sewer can handle such a population increase in existing neighborhoods. 

The Council currently has planned to vote on the Thrive 2050 plan by October 25.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Street closure for tree removal in Takoma Park on September 23

Tree work will close the 1000 block of Hopewell Avenue in Takoma Park on September 23, 2022. The tree removal, to be performed by Mulheron Tree Experts, is expected to take most of the day. No parking and detour signs will be posted by the company, Takoma Park police say. Hopewell Avenue is between Larch and Kentland Avenues, near East-West Highway.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Maryland says possible CSX strike could impact MARC commuter rail service starting September 16

CSX Transportation has informed the Maryland Transit Administration that a potential labor strike by CSX railroad employees could impact MARC commuter rail service beginning this Friday, September 16, 2022. The MTA says a strike would impact the Brunswick and Camden lines, which are operated by CSX personnel. Penn Line service, operated by Amtrak employees, would not be affected. Many residents of towns like Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Silver Spring and Kensington rely on MARC service.

The MTA is recommending that Brunswick and Camden line commuters begin making alternate travel plans for Friday morning, and plan to possibly continue using those alternatives until any potential labor action ends. A list of alternative commuting options is posted on the MTA website to assist riders in planning an alternative itinerary, if needed. A freight railroad worker strike would have far-reaching impacts to communities across the country, including supply lines and store inventories. This could cause inflation in prices, just as inflation pressures appeared to be slightly easing in many sectors.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Fugitive spotted at Takoma Park laundromat

Takoma Park police officers went to a laundromat after a fugitive from another Maryland jurisdiction was spotted there Saturday night. The fugitive was found at a laundromat in the 8400 block of Piney Branch Road at 11:11 PM Saturday. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Flip'd by IHOP sets opening date at Downtown Silver Spring (Photos)

There's been great progress inside of Flip'd by IHOP at 8537 Georgia Avenue at Downtown Silver Spring since my last update. The customer-facing elements of the interior are now in place. Signage guides patrons from the self-ordering screens to the order pick-up area. Most importantly, there is an opening date, according to their Google business listing: Tuesday, September 20, 2022. Here's a sneak peek inside:

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Lost cat in Takoma Park

Takoma Park police are seeking the public's help in finding a lost cat. Ollie has been missing for more than a week, police say. He is neutered and microchipped, has all of his vaccinations up-to-date, and is considered to be friendly. 

Despite many listserv-sharing and flyer-posting efforts, Ollie has yet to be located. Perhaps he is hiding in your part of the city. If you see him, you are asked to call Takoma Park police at 301-270-1100.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Starbucks to open new store in downtown Silver Spring

will be opening a new store in downtown Silver Spring. It will be at 1316 East-West Highway at The Blairs Shops, where Peet's Coffee is located today. Starbucks has already had a kiosk location inside the Giant store at the same shopping center, has a store on Ellsworth Drive, and a kiosk inside the Safeway on Thayer Avenue. The new Starbucks is anticipated to open by early 2023.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Smoothie King to open Olney location

Smoothie King
is expanding to Olney. The brand will open its newest store at 18151 Village Center Drive at Olney Village Center. It is expected to open by early 2023.

Flood watch in effect until 2:00 PM today for Central Maryland, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for all of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including Montgomery County and Central Maryland to the border with Pennsylvania. It is in effect from 4:00 AM to 2:00 PM this afternoon, September 6, 2022. There is the possibility of rainfall of 2-3" during this time, with potential totals up to 5" in some areas, due to heavy showers and possible thunderstorms.

Expect creeks, streams, rivers and flood-prone areas to experience high water levels and overflows. If you see high water in the road ahead, do not attempt to drive through it. Turn around and find an alternate route.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Montgomery County Executive candidate Reardon Sullivan releases new campaign ad

Reardon Sullivan
, the Republican nominee for Montgomery County Executive, has released a new campaign ad. "Montgomery County has changed," he says as the ad begins. "We were once the premier county in the country, but now violent crime has skyrocketed in our neighborhoods and schools. Our police are not supported, and can't do their jobs." 

Sullivan accuses the County's public school system of "pushing radical social agendas," instead of "the real lessons our children need to learn." He notes the trend of businesses leaving the county or closing, and the financial impact of that on County revenues. Alluding to the disatisfaction of a majority of Democratic primary voters with the incumbent executive, Sullivan asks, "[D]o you really want another four years of Marc Elrich?"

The ad ends with an appeal for voters to make their choice based on the areas of agreement residents have about the future of the County, as opposed to on the basis of party labels. “Now voters have a clear choice to make in the General Election," Sullivan said in a statement announcing the video this morning, "and I ask all voters for their support and their vote so together we can put Montgomery County back on the right track.”

Friday, September 2, 2022

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Celebration Saturday, September 3 in Sandy Spring

Montgomery Parks announced that it will be hosting a Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Celebration tomorrow, Saturday, September 3, 2022, at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park at 16501 Norwood Road in Sandy Spring from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Since 2019, by directive of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), September has been declared Underground Railroad Month in the state. 2022 is also the bicentennial of Tubman's birth in Dorchester, Maryland.

The event will include forested hikes, during which guides will explain techniques used by those fleeing slavery to successfully navigate a route to freedom. An $8 fee for the hike includes admission to the Woodlawn Museum. Visit the event website for advanced registration for the hikes.

“While Harriet Tubman was never active in this part of Maryland, we believe her story should inspire and generate pride in every Marylander," Woodlawn Manor Park Education Program Manager Cameron Walpole said in a statement. "Our guided hikes on the Underground Railroad Experience Trail allow visitors to contemplate the risks that freedom seekers took for a chance at freedom. These hikes focus on real Montgomery County freedom seekers. Our free children’s take-home activities, which are designed for ages 5 and up, provide a great opportunity for families to start a dialogue about what freedom means.”

Photo via Montgomery Parks

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Maryland governor candidates Dan Cox, Wes Moore to square off in TV debate October 12

After declining several invitations to debate Republican Dan Cox, Democrat Wes Moore has accepted an invite extended to both Maryland gubernatorial candidates from WBAL and Maryland Public Television. The debate is scheduled to take place on October 12, 2022 at 7:00 PM. It will be broadcast live on WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5, WBAL-TV 11 in Baltimore, Maryland Public Television statewide, and on NBC4 in the Washington, D.C. area.

Unless Moore agrees to further debates, this will be a high pressure forum, particularly for Cox. With far less broadcast advertising money than Moore has at his disposal, this will be a key opportunity for Cox to speak to a substantial TV and radio audience of likely voters. Cox is also in a rare scenario where the current governor of his own party affiliation - Larry Hogan - is refusing to help him in any way, due to Hogan's ongoing feud with Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Cox over Hogan's choice of Kelly Schulz in the GOP primary. 

"I look forward to the opportunity this October to contrast my vision and values with Dan Cox’s far-right agenda,” Moore said in a statement. “I am glad Wes Moore has finally accepted an invitation to debate with me," Cox said in his own statement this morning. "So far, he has refused or declined to respond to several requests, including those from Morgan State University and the Maryland Federation of NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association). I would like to thank MPT and WBAL for this opportunity. I look forward to letting the voters of Maryland see the candidates live, in person and unfiltered."