Thursday, February 26, 2009

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

You like-a da juice, eh? The juice is good, ah?

There's a new restaurant in town - the Big Greek Cafe at 8147 Georgia Ave., the space formerly occupied by El Taqueria Mexicano. I haven't tried it yet, but when I do I'll be all over this:

Hercules Burger $ 6.75
Seasoned Ground Beef With Tzaziki Sauce, Feta Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato On A Sesame Bun

They've even got a Facebook page. (Update: this place actually opens today - 3/2.)

It's always nice to see something opening up in Silver Spring that isn't a hair and/or nail place. Speaking of which, I'd bet dollars to donuts that the space formerly occupied by the recently-closed Douglas Speed Sport Center on Fenton will soon house a hair salon. (Douglass had been around forever. First the Electric Shaver Shop, now them. At least the shoe repair place is doing ok, thanks to no one being able to afford new kicks.) Seriously, why does Silver Spring need 300 hair and nail places??? They already make up 90% of our retail businesses. Bethesda has perhaps the highest number of restaurants per capita in the country; meanwhile, we can probably claim the same thing with respect to hair & nail joints.

- According to an anonymous commenter on this post, Montgomery County's ridiculous liquor laws were responsible for the demise of Kirsten's Cafe:

I have 2nd hand info on why Kirsten's closed. Her plan when she expanded into the space next door (Dunkin' Donuts?), was to get a liquor license and be open for dinner. County rules prohibit someone from having two liquor licenses and she has one for Red Dog. She was able to get a waiver of that rule, but was then stymied because there is a church (African congregation of some sort) that meets in the Minbilt office building next door and a liquor licensed-establishment is not permitted that close to a church.
Yeah, an office building = church...

- The same commenter also points out the news that Jerome Snider of Snider's Super Foods passed away last week. RIP.

- A Washington Post shopping blogger visited Silver Spring, and while she praised some of the stores, she essentially referred to the entire downtown development as "City Place". She must have not actually ventured into Shitty Place proper or the whole tone of the post might have been completely different.

- Some words of wisdom - no matter how annoying those helicopters may be - DO NOT POINT A (makes air quotes) LASER AT THEM.

- More on the Falkland Chase development mess from the Post. I think the people fighting this development may have a strategy - keep stalling the process until the economy collapses and developers can't afford to build anymore. Of course, with the county, it's damn the torpedoes, let's build a $700K library bridge anyway!

- Silver Spring Scene ist kaput?

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day News 'N Notes

- After a midday trip to the Burnt Mills Starbucks today, I’m now fairly confident that it will survive the ax when Starbucks announces its next round of store cuts. It was packed at two in the afternoon, with nary a seat to be found. (Of course, one could argue that the people that buy a $2 cup of coffee and loiter for two hours are terrible customers.) It may seem to be located in an strange place - sandwiched between two nearby Starbucks, but among other things it’s got a built-in customer base of Trader Joe’s shoppers to support it.

Speaking of Trader Joe’s, and as a follow-up to the recent discussion over the relative merits of Silver Spring’s various groceries, here’s a terrific video tribute to the market that you may enjoy. Most of the things mentioned are applicable to our own store, with the obvious exception of the alcohol sales.

- Gary Stith, director of the Silver Spring Regional Center, has announced he is stepping down to take another position with the county, and that the county will be looking for his replacement. I happen to know someone who might be interested. (*cough* *cough*) This would a perfect opportunity to remake Silver Spring to fit the image I have for it. I promise that there will be no charettes involved and that the Silent Majority of Silver Springers will be quite pleased with the results. What say you, Ike?

It’s not quite the same, but when my current position within Corporate America is ultimately eliminated, I aspire to become one of the guys with the red shirts who cruises around downtown Silver Spring on a Segway.

- I think the idea that in the present economic climate that it is reasonable to build a $700,000 pedestrian bridge from the Wayne Avenue garage to the planned library is completely absurd. It doesn’t take a real taxpayer of genius to figure that out. Sure the intersection at Wayne and Fenton isn’t great, but we can spend 700 grand in a hell of a lot better ways than that. Or, they could just save the money and lower my property taxes accordingly. Seriously, just build the damn library in City Place. Multiple problems solved.

My favorite quote from a Washington Post article on the subject:

"If you can't get to something easily, why bother?"

Imagine if that was the attitude of Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark, Sir Edmund Hillary or the members of the Apollo Program…

- I has a golf course. Noooo they be stealin' my golf course!

The Montgomery County Revenue Authority wants out of its lease for the Sligo Creek Golf Course, claiming that since its plan to add a driving range was thwarted by the “community” (like most every plan in Montgomery County) the course is no longer financially viable. That could potentially mean that the course would be shut down if the county couldn’t operate it on its own.

I’m not a golfer myself, but it’s comforting to know that we have our own convenient little public course available for use should I decide to take up the game.

(The real tragedy in all this was the non-addition of the mini-golf courses that were planned along with the driving range. *Sigh*)

- Those of you that regularly endure the endless stop and go experience that is a trip on the one of the S buses, you’ll be happy to hear that Metro has announced the creation of an express bus on 16th St. that will run during rush hour between Silver Spring and downtown DC.

Instead of making 82 stops from the Silver Spring Metro station to Federal Triangle or Potomac Park, the express would make 16 stops between Silver Spring Station and McPherson Square.
The last time I rode an S bus, someone attacked the outside of the bus and chased it down the street. Ah, the joys of Metrobus ridership...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Silver Spring Safeway: Lipstick on a Pig?

Super Bowl Sunday means homemade salsa, and I once again made the mistake of thinking I could procure the necessary ingredients at a downtown Silver Spring supermarket other than Whole Foods. As they say, fool me twice, shame on me. I had just finished dinner at Manadalay Friday night and figured it would be easy enough to just pop over to Safeway and grab a few salsa components. As that Safeway had recently undergone a facelift, perhaps the quality of their produce had improved along with the store's aesthetics. Sadly, that proved not to be the case.

What is the point of spending untold thousands to retrofit a store's produce aisle with wood flooring if employees are going to leave vegetables on the shelves until they turn the same color as said floors? The following photo, while blurry, clearly shows the awful brown hue of Safeway's bushels of cilantro.

This is an essential ingredient of the salsa, and I couldn't in good conscience serve anything containing this crap to Super Bowl partygoers. The spring onions and jalapeƱo peppers I required didn't look particularly appetizing, either. Needless to say, I was once again forced to make another visit to Whole Foods (and the parking lot from Hell) for my produce, but look at the difference:

Everything was the appropriate color, and though it may have cost me more, at least the stuff was edible.

I didn't try the also-renovated Giant's produce department this time around, which may have been for the best anyway. The Giant does seem improved from what I've seen so far, and I find it amusing that they've added what essentially amounts to a "Whole Foods" aisle. If you've been there recently, you know which one I'm talking about.


- Let the Silver Spring Starbucks deathwatch begin anew! All of our Starbucks survived last year's purge, but corporate has just announced that 300 additional stores will be closed nationwide. The Woodmoor/Burnt Mills/White Oak Starbucks corridor came through unscathed last time, but can they avoid the bullet twice?

- I was surprised to discover that the Google Street View car actually drove down Mayor Lane, which is really just a street in name only.

- Three Alliance Comics employees have created their own comic book. Comic books and pro wrestling - what's not to love? The comic's website can be found here.