Friday, March 29, 2024

Renovation ahead for downtown Silver Spring McDonald's

One of downtown Silver Spring's finest restaurants will be getting some interior updates. The McDonald's restaurant at 8407 Colesville Road will undergo an interior remodeling in the coming months. Changes planned by the franchisee include a new design for the dining room and counter areas, and new bathroom fixtures. The announcement comes a few weeks after similar plans were disclosed for the Four Corners McDonald's.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Commas food hall construction update at Ellsworth Place (Photos)

Here's a look at the construction progress inside the future Commas food hall at Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring. It's not as far along as you would expect by this point, but represents great progress compared to the stalled-out initial phase of construction. There's still some drywall visible, but a large amount of the white tile you may have seen in renderings has been installed on the walls. Many light fixtures are in place, but the floor is still bare, whereas the renderings showed a grey honeycomb tile design. It looks like the opening is still a few months away.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Salud! Beer & Wine opening in Takoma Park

Salud! Beer & Wine
is coming soon to Takoma Park. The store, which will offer craft beer and fine wine tastings, will be located at 1173-C University Boulevard, in the Hampshire-Langley Shopping Center. Matt Gorman of Renaud Consulting represented the store owners in reaching a lease deal for the 3000-square-foot storefront with property owner Saul Centers. Operating hours for the store will be 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Monday through Thursday, and 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Aroma Hookah Lounge for sale in Silver Spring

Is the Montgomery County Council's latest attack on business already having an impact? Aroma Hookah Lounge is now being offered for sale at 948 Sligo Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. The Council recently introduced a legislative proposal to limit the hours of operation of hookah bars. 

Aroma, with a 600-square-foot outdoor patio and many recent upgrades to the building's key systems, is being offered for sale at an asking price of $200,000. The online sales listing cites "unforeseen family situations" as the reason for the sale offering, and says the lounge has not been one of the downtown Silver Spring establishments to draw noise complaints from residents.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Signs of life at long-delayed Outback Steakhouse in downtown Silver Spring

A series of delays in the opening of the new Outback Steakhouse at 8661 Colesville Road in the Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring may be at an end. There are now literal signs of life at the "boisterous Australian-inspired" restaurant across from The Fillmore concert venue. A couple of sandwich boards have been placed outside the takeaway pickup entrance, one of which announces that there is "training in progress" inside. 

In addition to the activity on-site, I notice that Outback placed help-wanted ads on multiple employment websites three days ago. The other sign outside the entrance is similarly seeking staff for the restaurant. It has a number you can text if you want to join this training that is in progress. All indications are that Silver Spring diners south of Aspen Hill could soon be tucking into a Bloomin' Onion at the newest Outback in Montgomery County.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Ficker: David Trone's racial slur shows word was "on the tip of his tongue"

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate
David Trone (D)

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate David Trone (D), in his current role as representative for the state's 6th Congressional District, used a racial slur when speaking to a Black woman during a committee hearing on Thursday. Trone later issued a statement apologizing for using the word, claiming he had meant to use the term "bugaboo" instead. "That word has a long, dark, terrible history," Trone said of the slur in his statement. "It should never be used any time, anywhere, in any conversation." While Trone characterized his language as a mere gaffe, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Robin Ficker suggested it was more of a Freudian slip.

“I am appalled by David Trone’s use of this vile word, especially when addressing a black woman," Ficker said in a statement Friday. "That terrible word does not simply slip out of someone’s mouth unless it is constantly on the tip of their tongue. Trone’s attempt to pass this off as a harmless mistake is an affront to the voters’ intelligence."

Trone's unforced error couldn't have come at a worse time. Days earlier, a poll showed that former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was far ahead of Trone and Democratic rival Angela Alsobrooks in the contest for outgoing U.S. Senator Ben Cardin's seat. The poll also showed that despite months of relentless, unskippable YouTube ads, Trone is not a a familiar name to most registered voters statewide.

Yet, the poll had only underlined the fact that the Democratic National Committee badly needs Trone and his personal wealth to defeat Hogan this fall. The entry into the race by popular former governor Hogan, who still enjoys bipartisan support and goodwill, means Republican donations and dark money will be pouring into a state that now represents a flippable seat in the Senate. But by the end of the week, Trone had wounded himself badly with his out-of-left-field use of a racial slur.

Trone now finds himself in a similar predicament as two of his Democratic colleagues in Virginia, as well as former Virginia Gov. George Allen (R). In 2019, then-Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and then-Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) were revealed to have worn blackface as adults. Northam was also accused of being one of two men in a yearbook photograph, whose identities were hidden by Ku Klux Klan robes and blackface. Northam initially admitted he was one of the two men in the photo, without identifying which one, but later retracted his confession. 

Allen used a racial slur when addressing a tracker from a rival campaign who was videotaping him at a campaign event in 2006. Despite yeoman's work by The Washington Post to revive Northam and Herring's prospects - and Northam's bizarre framing of collective penance by the state for his personal racist acts - Virginia voters had the last word, firing Herring during the 2021 election. The political careers of all three Virginians were ended by the episodes. But they gave voters a window into the world of politicians who profess one thing in daylight, but hold contrasting mores and values privately.

Those lessons show the real political hot water Trone is now in. The woman he was addressing when a racial slur came to his mind was Black. His leading Democratic primary opponent is Black. And Maryland is one of the American states where Black voters have decisive power. No one can win a statewide election here if they are strongly opposed by African-American voters.

Hogan has not yet issued a public statement on Trone's use of the slur. Ficker, in his statement, recapped his political record on civil rights, including his participation in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. "Aside from marching with Dr. [Martin Luther] King, last year, I was asked to be on the hospitality committee for the 60th Reunion of the March led by Martin Luther King, III," Ficker recounted. "In 1976, I was appointed by Rosa Parks to be the first general counsel for the National Caucus on Black Aging."

"Unlike Congressman Trone, I have a track record of supporting the black community, instead of just giving them lip service," Ficker said. "I’m incredibly proud of my work to advance racial equality, and I will always be a friend to the Black community in the Senate.”

Friday, March 22, 2024

Chido's Tex-Mex Grill opening soon at Downtown Silver Spring

Chido's Tex-Mex
is coming soon to Downtown Silver Spring, according to signage posted at the future restaurant. It will be taking the place of The Eleanor at 931 Ellsworth Drive. The local restaurant brand has one location in Laurel. Tex-Mex is hardly the rarest or most unique cuisine in the area, but that doesn't stop Chido's from boasting it serves "the best margaritas in town," and "Tex-Mex like never before."


Thursday, March 21, 2024

2 East MoCo students named National Honor Society semi-finalists for 2024

Allison Xu

Allison Xu
, a senior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, is one of the 25 finalists out of nearly 17,000 applicants who will receive a $5625 scholarship award from the National Honor Society. She is now also eligible for the $25,000 national winner scholarship, which will be awarded at a gala event on April 5. 

Xu is Editor-in-Chief of her countywide student newspaper, The MoCo Student, and her high school’s newspaper, The Pitch. She was named the 2023 Youth Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, and has performed at Kennedy Center, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and the American Courage Awards.

"I feel incredibly honored to earn this prestigious recognition," Xu said in a statement yesterday. "Winning the NHS Scholarship also inspires me to continue striving for excellence and serving as a role model for others."

"Allison has gone above and beyond to excel academically and lift up her community through selfless service and leadership," National Association of Secondary School Principals CEO Ronn Nozoe said. "Her actions today exemplify the incredible leader she is, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes." NASSP is the parent organization of the NHS.

Davina Canagarajah of Sherwood High School, and Raei Tamiru of Wheaton High School, were named as two of the 575 semi-finalists yesterday, and will each receive a $3,200 scholarship.

Residences at Forest Glen construction update (Photos)

Here's a look at the progress at the construction site of the Residences at Forest Glen development, located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Belevdere Boulevard. This was previously the site of the Forest Glen Apartments, which were demolished to clear the way for the new buildings. The Residences will house 189 apartments, which will be restricted to those making 60% of the area's median income or less; a community room with programming for children and adults; a 6000-square-foot "play-themed" courtyard; a 9,000-square-foot "life style" courtyard with outdoor cooking equipment, meeting and working space, and community gardens; a community lawn; and an educational stormwater management garden. Montgomery Housing Partnership is the developer, and Humphrey Management will handle leasing for the project, which is scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2025.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Wheaton nightclub to become marijuana dispensary

The new tenant of a longtime nightclub building in Wheaton has found a higher purpose for the space. 11300 Georgia Avenue, on the edge of the Wheaton Triangle, will become a marijuana dispensary. Verilife will open its newest Maryland location here soon. 

Workers have been busy inside the space over the last week. Residents and Georgia Avenue commuters likely recall that former tenants here over the years have included Wheaton Lounge, Irene's Sky Bar, and El Fogon de Wheaton. Verilife is anticipated to open before the end of the month.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Starbucks closing at Downtown Silver Spring

The Starbucks store at 915 Ellsworth Drive at Downtown Silver Spring is closing. A notice from the store manager says it will permanently close at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2024. The official corporate notice does not say why the store is closing, but unidentified employees at the store told ABC7 News that crime was a primary factor in the closure. Customers are being directed to the new Starbucks store at 1316 East-West Highway at The Blairs Shops shopping center.

Monday, March 18, 2024

More landmark Kensington properties available for sale

The last few years have seen several venerable, landmark buildings along Kensington's main drag hit the real estate market. Now joining them is a portfolio of commercial properties at 3606-3612 University Boulevard. It includes an office building, a retail store, a warehouse, and a small house that is apparently designed to function as an office. Of course, there may also be lucrative redevelopment opportunities to explore on the site, which has incredible visibility along a major commuter route. 

You may recall that longtime tenant Potomac Trading announced plans to close here back in 2022. The store apparently then changed its plans and remained open. But it apparently means to finally shutter this time, as the online listing claims the properties will transfer to the buyer as "100% vacant" at the time of closing. The asking price for the total portfolio is $3,300,000.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Montgomery County police to conduct saturation patrols all St. Patrick's Day weekend

Montgomery County police will be conducting saturation patrols across the jurisdiction this weekend, in an attempt to deter and catch drunk drivers. Almost 50% of traffic-related deaths on St. Patrick's Day weekend historically have been caused by people driving while intoxicated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Deployment of the full Alcohol Initiatives Unit, and overtime pay for the extra officers on the streets this weekend, are being partially-funded by grants from the Maryland Highway Safety Office. Joining County officers on patrol this weekend will be cruisers from the Maryland State Police - Rockville Barrack N, the Maryland Transportation Authority police, the County’s Sheriff’s Department, and the Maryland-National Capital Park police.

“If you plan to drink, do not drive,” Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said in a statement. “Our officers will be conducting saturation patrols throughout the County and arresting intoxicated drivers. The tragedy that occurs when people get behind the wheel intoxicated is 100 percent preventable.”

County officials are urging those who plan to drink, and do not already have a plan to safely return home, to utilize the SoberRide program. The free ride-home program is offered through the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) in partnership with Lyft. Promotional codes for Lyft will be posted online at 11:00 AM on Sunday, March 17, on The codes are valid for up to $15-off on one ride home taken in Lyft’s Washington, D.C., coverage area from noon on Sunday, March 17, until midnight on Monday, March 18. The number of codes is limited, and participants must be 21 or older. Officials also suggest using the County's Ride On bus service.

“There are ample ride services that will get you home safety,” County Department of Transportation Director Chris Conklin said. “If you are choosing to celebrate with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, plan out your ride home ahead of time to keep our shared roadways safe for everyone.”

Friday, March 15, 2024

Silver Spring hotel being demolished (Photos)

Demolition of the former Hampton Inn hotel at 8728 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring is underway. The building has a history of great change, having started life as an office property before its conversion to a hotel. Next-door neighbor United Therapeutics acquired the building in 2021, and is now removing it to allow for the continued expansion of its biotech campus. The controlled mechanical structural demolition is scheduled to continue through the end of May 2024. A noise suppression plan for the demolition was approved by Montgomery County on January 3, 2024.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Crossroads at Kensington construction update (Photos)

Slowly-but-surely seems to be the mantra with the Crossroads at Kensington shopping center project. The ambitious redevelopment of a former gas station site has been in the works since January 2021. While the gas station was demolished a year ago, and it looked like construction would begin in earnest shortly afterward, today there is a mere framework of only a portion of the planned strip mall. Tenants who have signed leases so far are Buffalo Wild Wings GO, Mezeh, Marathon Deli and M&T Bank.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Java Nation opens in Silver Spring

Java Nation
's newest location is now open at 1010 Wayne Avenue, in the Station Square building in downtown Silver Spring. This location has a convenient pickup window for takeout orders, and is right near the Silver Spring Metro station for your morning coffee. 

Initial operating hours of the Silver Spring Restobar will be 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Sunday through Wednesday, and 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM Thursday through Saturday. Hours for the Silver Spring Express cafe will be 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Happy hour is 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM Monday through Saturday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The Fillmore gets a new marquee in Silver Spring (Photos)

The marquee at The Fillmore at 8656 Colesville Road in Silver Spring can suddenly do more. By my recollection, the concert venue's electronic display has been text-only in the past. Now it features graphic images, as well, as you can see here. From the now-exposed metalwork left behind on either side of the display, it appears that the old one was entirely removed, and replaced with the fancier one.