Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday News 'N Notes

- Borders Books, whose store is one of the anchors of DTSS, isn't going to be filing for bankruptcy, despite recent speculation that they might be forced to do so. Well, at least not yet they aren't. I would be sad if Borders were to disappear. Where else would I kill time when my wife shops at Ann Taylor Loft/DSW/Ulta? Of course, I am the archetypal consumer responsible for the company's woes, seeing as I buy nearly all my books on, with the exception of those instances where Borders offers a 40% off coupon. The only upside to Borders failing would be the prospect of a store-wide clearance sale.

I imagine the Silver Spring Borders does OK relative to others nationwide, as it always looks busy. Whether or not anyone is actually buying things or just lollygagging like me is a different matter. Maybe Barnes & Noble, which is doing relatively well, could step in and take over the space provided it wasn't too small for their needs.

- The Blog of Diminishing Returns, authored by an economics professor who resides in Silver Spring, recently had a post examining the economics of IMAX pricing at the Majestic 20. This was the first of a series of posts he intends to write looking at the economics of Silver Spring. His follow-up post examines the competitive burrito environment in downtown Silver Spring. As a former Econ major, I always find these types of analyses interesting.

- One economic analysis I'd like to see is the increase in business local establishments see after issuing coupons via Groupon, and what type of profit they actually realize. I went to LebTav in DTSS the other day with my groupon and watched as six consecutive customers paid using a printed coupon. A few weekends back, after Parkway Deli offered their $20 for $10 coupon, the place was visibly busier.

- I finally got around to checking out Babe's Sports bar (which is now on Twitter and Facebook), and it was a good time. I'm not going to do a proper review as restaurant reviews aren't really my area, but here's a brief rundown of the good and some potential areas for improvement.


- The food was pretty good for sports bar food. I didn't try the ribs, but by all accounts they are excellent. My burger was tasty, as were the fries (more on these below). The brownie I had for dessert was delicious.

- The French fries come with Old Bay seasoning on them by default. There should be a law in Maryland requiring this.

- They have a Gus Frerrote Redskins jersey displayed on the wall, which is appropriate as up against a wall is how the Gus Bus will be best remembered.

 And a few suggestions for Babe's, based on my idealized vision of a sports bar:
- Dim the lights. It was a tad bright downstairs, particularly for a pool hall.

- If possible, set up an area with a large projection screen where big groups of people can watch a game together. This was one of my main requirements when I posted last year regarding Silver Spring's need for a sports bar. Without this, you get a lot of small groups spread out around the room, taking away from the communal atmosphere.

- Hook up one television to the bar's main sound system so that the audio for the featured game can be heard throughout the building (including the bathrooms, preferably).

- Take down the Baltimore Ravens banner immediately.

- I make an effort to support local businesses, but the price of beans at Highland Origin Coffee is ridiculous. They charge $40 for two pounds of whole bean coffee! I can mail order the same amount from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland for less, and that includes shipping from the west coast. Highland's coffee is good, but not that good. Sorry, just had to bitch about that.


Anonymous said...

It's about time Borders deepened the 50% discount on 2011 calendars. I won't buy one until they are 75% off. That is all I have to say.


Anonymous said...

I think I'm one of the few people that tries to shop at Border's. I guess I'm more sentimental about book/music stores than I am about other retailers, but I strongly prefer to buy books and CDs from brick-and-mortar stores. (Yes, I prefer CDs to music downloads - I like to have physical possession of my music.)

I just really enjoy the browsing environment - it's nice to poke through the stacks and see what's available, maybe discover a new author or a book I hadn't heard of before. That sort of possibility isn't really available in the same way on Amazon.

For the same reason, I really like physical music stores. There used to be a place in Georgetown where they sold all sorts of neat club-mix CDs. They'd have a bunch of trance mixes, loungey-type stuff, Latin jazz compilations, etc., and they'd let you listen to anything you wanted. I love that kind of music but would never buy it without at least sampling beforehand (and more than your regular, 10-second iTunes sample). I really miss places like that.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, those econ posts should be pretty cool.

I like the Borders okay, but definitely wouldn't cry over it closing, assuming the space wouldn't remain vacant (safe assumption considering every inch of Ellsworth is currently spoken for). Space could be cut up into a number of restaurants/stores or the space could be kept huge for anything our imaginations can think of...

Anonymous said...

I think a nice bowling alley would do great business in the space and would add another amenity to be enjoyed by all. It would also encourage me/others to use Silver Spring Books (on bonifant) for the rare occasion I don't buy a book online.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:05 PM,

Did you patronize the bowling alley on Cameron & Fenton when it was opened or are you a new transplant?

Sligo said...

You don't even have to be that new of a transplant not to have bowled at the old Bowl America. That place closed down quite some time ago.

Don't forget about White Oak Lanes.

Anonymous said...


I went to the Bowl of America place back in the day. Fun times! I thought the disco theme on Saturday nights was lame though.

Speaking of bookstores, I miss Olsson's Books the most. I used to visit the Olsson's in DuPont and Old Town Alexandria frequently. It was a classy book and records store that had an independent vibe. And for a bookstore, Olsson's had an awesome selection of alternative rock band CDs.

Borders and B&N are stale, soulless corporate spaces that cannot come close to the warmth of an Olsson's or Politics & Prose.

Anonymous said...

Amen on the Projection screen and hooking up the speakers so you can hear the "big" game everywhere. I'm really enjoying Babe's otherwise though, very good food so far. The burger filled with cheese was amazing, as were the fries, I was pleasantly surprised.

I really hope they get some of their TV package issues resolved quickly though - there were some problems last Sunday trying to watch the Packer game. I'd also love to go there for EPL games and to watch the Yanks during baseball season.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm a new transplant (3.5 years and counting), so I never went to the old bowling alley. I wish I cared for duckpin so White Oak could be an option.

The NFL TV package and beer price/quality are about all that matter for me when it comes to a sports bar. Were there any drink specials on Saturday for the caps game/a normal saturday or sunday? How expensive are the beers during specials/HH and during "normal" hours? I'm sure I'll find this all out this weekend if no one

Sligo said...

Re: EPL games

The problem with those is that with some exceptions most start fairly early on Saturday, before the bar opens at 11:00AM. I do believe they have the soccer package from DTV, however.

At the imaginary sports bar that I own, I have EPL breakfasts on Saturday mornings.

Sligo said...

Re: duckpin

You are not a true Marylander until you play duckpins at least a few times.

Anonymous said...

Babe's -- Do NOT take down the Ravens banner. Some of us around here are Ravens fans. Plus, I think Redskins fans should have a constant reminder that there is an excellent, non-dysfunctional team that they can support, rather than continue to enrich Danny boy, who has driven the Redskins into the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I just want to thank you for the gif of good ole Gus ramming his head into the wall. I was 13 at the time and it still remains one of my iconic pre-Danny boy images.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Duckpins are awesome, particularly when you are bowling with folks of a variety of ages. The kids can handle them, as can older people who may have some hand issues.

Mike said...

If you really want an example of long-term excellence for all the woebegone Redskins fans, replace the Ravens banner with the Steelers. :-)

Mike said...

If you really want an example of long-term excellence for all the woebegone Redskins fans, replace the Ravens banner with the Steelers. :-)

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the area, remember Sonny playing and was a loyal Skin's fan. BUT, until the team is out of Dan's clutches, leave the Raven's banner alone!

Duck pin, Old Bay and the Ravens are all Freestate anyway

Anonymous said...

I think some of you goofballs like a lot of people in the DC Metro area are having geography problems:

Silver spring is NOT Baltimore.

Take down the Banner. And Ban the Steelers Donkey.

This is always Redskins country. Bandwagoners can kindly be reminded of why they aren't living in their team's hometown: Because it sucks.

Anonymous said...

Um, Silver Spring is NOT in DC (they are the WASHINGTON Skins, even if they play in MD, and is not the new mayor making noise about bringing them back, anyway? like that gonna happen any time soon.)

I'd put more stock on the Baltimore Bullets, er the Washington Wizards, now that Ted has them, then any team Loser Dan has a controlling interest in. He has done as much for the Skins as Peter has done for the O's. Where oh where has Edward Bennett Williams gone?

Anonymous said...

And oh, which sucks - because it is not clear the way you wrote it - SS or DC?

Anonymous said...

I'm not 2:48, but I think he/she was saying that Baltimore sucks. Bandwagoners seems to be referring to Ravens fans.

Anonymous said...

That is rich. Balmore sucks cause they have a team in the playoffs, DC or SS don't suck cause they don't have a playoff team. Geography, Shammography, losers like Peter and Dan don't deserve anyone's support, location be darned!

Sligo said...

Reasons I can never like the Ravens:

- Baltimore fans do not support the Redskins. In fact, the opposite is true, even when they didn't have a team.

- They are still whining about their beloved Colts leaving in the middle of the night for Indianapolis, but they had no problem stealing a team from Cleveland. Hypocrites.

- They are purple.

- The disgusting display of bandwagonism that I saw in Montgomery County in 2000 when they won the Superbowl. I can't believe how many Ravens flags I saw flying from cars in Bethesda. Unacceptable. The Redskins may suck, but you're stuck with them.

Anonymous said...

Sligo, While I respect your dislike of the Ravens, I am not enough of a massochist to support The Skins under their current ownership. Certain people should simply not be allowed to own a team. Dan is unfortunately one of them. I'll treasure the good ol' days, but to support the team these days is an exercise in futility and self-abuse. I wish it was not so, but alas it is. I've learned to actually like hockey. Now if the Caps could only make some inroads in the "second season..."

monkey said...

I went out in DTSS for some bar hopping last Friday night.
1. First we went to Babe's to check it out. Quick summary is that my buddy and I both concluded it was a Chucky Cheese for our parents (I'm 33). They had Central American soccer on TV...Didn't order food.

2. Second stop was at the Fire House place. Note that on their sports tvs they had Spurs, Caps, ESPN. At least one of the bartenders was our age. Ordered bbq chicken pizza and it was pretty tasty. Alas the place was drying up so we moved on...

3. Third stop was Quarry House. Man I love this place. A hole in the wall place for people that like to wear shirts bought on (I kid...) But I really do love this place and their fried pickles. Sadly, a scan of the room suggested I might be the only person in there with children :(

4. Ok, time to wrap up and I remember that Austin Grill had $1 tacos after 11pm. Unfortunately that promo ended some time ago. Oddly, it was the most packed I've seen Austin Grill bar and there was no band. It was cool hanging with the homies, but after some longhorn nachos we peaced out.

jag said...

Does it make sense at this point to get people together (current bloggers and otherwise) and create a Silver Spring site that has multiple bloggers posting on the same site (e.g.

Hope the suggestion isn't offensive - it's just you and Eric post so rarely these days and the Penguin's and Scene's demise already left a pretty huge hole.

Please just give it some thought. I think it'd do great and realistically there isn't going to be another Jennifer Deseo coming along - we need a whole committee to fill those shoes.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It does seem that the Silver Spring blogs have become pretty stale of late. I'm not bitching, because that would imply that I'd be willing to help work on one (I'm too lazy to do that), just saying.

Sligo said...

I'm working on it!

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