Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Burgers to Take the Stage as Early as Thursday

As you may have already heard, the Stage Burger Lounge is set to open in the old Sabroso spot at 8624 Colesville Road and will be run by Spiro Gioldasis (owner of Mrs. K's and the two Pacci's restaurants) and Mrs. K's sous chef Luis Flores.

The menu (below) features a variety of sandwiches named using both literal (Mushaboom!) and punny versions of famous song titles. Foster the People has even achieved the honor of hamburger namesake with the introduction of the "Pumped Up Kids" burger. Certain commenters on this blog will be satisfied to know that the menu includes at least one vegan option.

Stage Burger could be open as soon as Thursday, sadly one week too late for the Guns N' Roses concert.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Franklin Avenue to Get a Lot More Fun This Fall

While the scheduled repair of the University Boulevard Beltway bridge may not  have a noticeable effect on those living close to downtown, some of us who live in the '01 should be a bit wary about the revised traffic patterns associated with this project.

The current plan is to close the outer loop beltway exit to University during the bridge repair and re-route traffic to the southbound Colesville Road exit and back across to University via Franklin Avenue. Additionally, the number of lanes on University crossing the bridge will be reduced from three to two during the duration of the work.


The work, which begins this fall, is scheduled to last two very long years. 

As someone who already makes that left turn onto Franklin from Colesville each weekday evening, I am definitely not looking forward to the implementation of this detour. I also think that residents of the Indian Spring neighborhood might want to consider lobbying for some sort of new traffic restrictions, as their neighborhood streets are an obvious cut-through alternative between Colesville and University.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the work or the detour, there's an "informational workshop" scheduled for Tuesday from 5:30 to 7 in the Blair High School cafeteria.

UPDATE:  Directing traffic to exit the Beltway at New Hampshire then cut across Piney Brand Rd to University is the best alternative I have heard so far. Doesn't this make far more sense than routing traffic through a residential neighborhood? For one thing, drivers would have to stay on the Beltway for two fewer exits.


I guess ultimately the 'official' detour is irrelevant, as people are going to take whatever route they deem fastest for them.

Did anyone get a chance to go to the presentation regarding the detour held at Blair HS on Tuesday night?

Now, Piratz Tavern's Journey to the Dark Side is Complete


When I first heard that Piratz Tavern had been re-branded as "Corporate Bar and Grill", I thought there must be some mistake. In the era of the Occupy movement, could you pick a less off-putting theme for a business located in a fairly liberal locale like Silver Spring? How about the TaliBar?

Despite my skepticism, the new signage revealed last night confirmed this rumor:


I understand that perhaps a pirate-themed bar wasn't viable in the long run, and the place wouldn't have made it on Bar Rescue were some sort of change not needed, but I can't think of a way they could have possibly alienated their current customer base more than this. It's as if the bar was unsuspectingly featured on Punk'd instead of Bar Rescue. Perhaps there is a level of irony involved here that my non-mustachioed self can't possibly comprehend.

Unsurprisingly, some of their (former) customers aren't too pleased, based on yet-to-be-deleted comments on Piratz's Facebook page:



Anyway, they had their soft opening last night, during which the "reveal" portion of the Bar Rescue episode was filmed. Thayeravenue.com has some photos taken last night of the bar's exterior and of the rear patio.

And here's a shot of Corporate's menu, taken by Twitter user @Fedinsider:


While I don't fully comprehend the new strategy, I do hope it works out for them. I want to see local Silver Spring businesses succeed.

One bit of advice to the owners, however: it is not advisable to send angry emails to local blogs demanding that they take down posts that simply convey (accurate) information that was posted on the businesses' official Facebook page. You could always just ask nicely if you have a legitimate reason for your request.

UPDATE: I highly recommend reading the comments left on a Facebook group established this weekend by displaced Piratz Tavern customers. (Note that you'll need a Facebook account to access the page.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bye, Bye, Babe's

So, let's continue with the restaurant closure theme today, because closing is what a majority of restaurants do after a year or two. (Though the oft-quoted 90% failure rate isn't really accurate.)

Word is that Babe's Sports Bar will at some point be replaced by Tex Mex restaurant Fajita Coast, which is vacating its current Four Corners location due to a dispute with its landlord. Based on the vitriolic reviews of Babe's recently left in the comments sections of this blog, I don't imagine a lot of readers will be shedding a tear over the sports bar's departure. Reviews on Yelp! and in a recent issue of the Gazette weren't any more forgiving.

While I only made it there a handful of times, I'm still sad to see Silver Spring's only dedicated sports bar depart. Where else will you find Gus Frerrote's jersey proudly displayed on a wall outside of the living room of his mother's house? I went there to watch the Redskins-Cowboys game last fall, and the place was pretty packed, though there were a few too many Cowboys fans for my taste. Having the games projected on the exterior wall was novel, as was the faux beach they created in the summer months. They tried, but the restaurant business is brutal.

A sports bar had been on my wish list for downtown Silver Spring for quite awhile and I was delighted when I heard one was opening here. Guess it's going back on the list.

Silver Spring Now Moroccan Restaurant-Free

Happy trails (or should I say مع السلامة?) to Marrakesh, the Moroccan restaurant which opened less than a year ago in the wake of the closing of Shitty Place’s Taste of Morocco.

I had been hearing rumblings for some time that it might be closing, but never had any confirmation. To make matters even more confusing, there seems to be two separate websites for the restaurant, one which uses the old Taste of Morroco URL and another at marrakeshsilverspring.com. The former has a message that reads "We are still open in Silver Spring, any note you find online that we are moving soon, is just a scam from unknown people" at the top of the main page, while the latter's front page reads "THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN SILVER SPRING WE LOOK FORWARD TO SERVING YOU IN BETHESDA".

Huh?

Regardless of these conflicting messages, it would indeed appear as if they are closing, as purchasers of a Groupon offer at the restaurant received an email yesterday informing them that Marrakesh's last day of operations would be February 29th. Why they are closing in Silver Spring or where they are moving in Bethesda, I don't know.

I  never dined there myself, though not because I don't like Moroccan food. I admire their attempt to offer a 'traditional' seven-course Moroccan dinner, but the fact that was the only option turned me off. I can't always eat that much.  Of course, maybe Marrakesh did eventually add à la carte options, or so says the menus available on one of the websites.  I can't keep track. (Also, I always feel awkward when a meal is "ponctuated" by belly dancers at my table.)

I'm not even sure what the name of the restaurant is - "Marrakesh" or "Moroccan Bites"? Not that it matters now.

Thanks to everyone who forwarded me the Groupon email.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Piratz Tavern to be "Rescued"

According to its Facebook page, Piratz Tavern has been selected to receive a makeover as part of the second season of Spike TV's Bar Rescue and should be closed for a week or two as it undergoes whatever transformation "bar expert" Jon Taffer has in store for it.


Can't say I've ever seen the show, but presumably the bars involved generally come out improved. Look for the episode to air sometime this summer.

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Four Corners Tex-Mex restaurant Fajita Coast is closing, reportedly due to repeated conflicts with the landlord of the retail strip in which is located. Unconfirmed rumors have it eventually moving to the old Mayorga space on Georgia Avenue.

- Silver Spring's Woodmoor neighborhood was profiled last week in Post's regular "Where We Live" feature.

- United Therapeutics has plans to add street-level retail to their Spring Street headquarters building and has solicited suggestions from residents of the adjoining Woodside Park neighborhood. The types of businesses which would be viable there might be limited, as the location is somewhat removed from the foot traffic of the core of Silver Spring. There's plenty of parking, at least. One popular suggestion thus far has been the ever-coveted Busboys and Poets. Sorry, but the owner is far to self-righteous and hypocritical to open a location here.

- The Silver Spring ice rink will be offering free skating tomorrow night from 6-8PM.

-  Silver Spring has been dubbed a "record paradise".

Thanks to VC and AN for their respective tips.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ask And Ye Shall Receive (Hamburgers)

A day after posting that I'd like to see another burger place in Silver Spring, I receive news that one is in the works and set to open in the coming months. I don't have a lot of details to share just yet (some I don't know, others I agreed not to release), but the new "fast-casual burger joint/bar" will be called The Stage Burger Lounge. I'm not sure where it will be located, but the name and logo seem to indicate that it might be in close proximity to the Fillmore. With any luck, it will open on Skid Row.


I'll have more details as they become available. The Stage already has a Twitter account, so you can also check for updates there.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Silver Spring Wish List - Updated for 2012

And now, in no particular order, my Silver Spring wish list for 2012. Please feel free to post your own list in the comments section.

1. A Barbeque Joint


I love me some barbeque, but let's face it - the DC metro area is pretty much a barbeque wasteland. Maybe I'm just spoiled because I went to college in the South, where BBQ restaurants are ubiquitous. I ate a whole lot of Sonny's back then. That’s not to say they are completely non-existent in the region – I do occasionally frequent to the Urban BBQ in Rockville (sorry, "North Bethesda") on my lunch breaks, and that place is decent. There is another Urban BBQ location in Silver Spring, though it's in Hillandale, a borderline SSINO area that's not particularly convenient to downtown. I'd love to see a good, dedicated barbeque joint open up right in downtown Silver Spring.

2. Five Guys

These days you can’t go anywhere in America without seeing a Five Guys. Well, except downtown Silver Spring. Why whoever owns the territory has not opened a location downtown is beyond me. It'd be like printing currency every lunch hour. (And yes, I am fully aware there is one up on Tech Road, but as i the aforementioned Urban BBQ, that’s also not the most convenient location to downtown Silver Spring.) All sorts of miscellaneous restaurants come and go in Silver Spring, yet inexplicably no one has bothered to start up a Five Guys franchise.
Is Five Guys the best hamburger around? Probably not, but it’s an easy place to hit up at lunch if you're craving a burger. Granted, there’s Fuddruckers right in DTSS, but for whatever reason I just have no desire to eat there.

And why stop there? How about a Ray's Hellburger? We've already have a regular Ray's restaurant, right?
3. Rodman’s

It may not be the optimal place at which to do your everyday grocery shopping, but what I love about Rodman's is its wide selection of international packaged goods, most of which you won't often find at other stores. This is particularly true at the Friendship Heights location, the one up in White Flint having significantly downsized awhile back to focus on beer and wine. It also seems that when Whole Foods does carry these items, they are notably pricier than they are at Rodman's.

Some of my recent purchases from Rodman's.  Time for cream tea.

While there already exists a Rodman’s that is technically in Silver Spring, its location at the corner of Randolph and Viers Mill is another one of those amorphous SSINO regions that isn't particularly convenient, especially in traffic. I’ve never stepped foot in this one, though from the reviews it would appear it isn't quite as nice as the Friendship Heights store.

One thing I can’t figure out is how there exists in Montgomery County two Rodman’s that carry beer and wine. Doesn't that somehow violate the County’s draconian liquor laws allowing for only one outlet of a grocery chain to carry alcoholic beverages? Perhaps they have some sort of grandfathered status. I wonder if these same laws would prevent them from opening another location in Silver Spring. I'm sure they get a substantial portion of their revenue from beer and wine and wouldn't want to open a store that didn't sell these items.


4. Another Coffeehouse in/near DTSS

I don't really have anything against Starbucks on principle, I'm just thoroughly bored with it. Plus, the DTSS location is small and cramped, making it difficult to find a table should you actually want to sit down and enjoy your coffee. The Borders Cafe once served as an alternative, but that of course closed down along with the bookstore. It doesn't even need to be on Ellsworth, I'd just like to see something new open up within a block, perhaps on Skid Row by the Fillmore.

Sure, everyone loves Kefa Café, but it's a few blocks away, it's small, and doesn't maintain late hours. Highland Origin on Fenton Street is even farther away and appears to have closed, anyway. I suppose there's always Panera, but that has more of a sandwich place vibe. I want a place right downtown where I can go grab a cup of coffee and relax on a cozy couch before a movie or whatever. Like the now-defunct Mayorga, only closer in.

Based on past comments on this blog, Busboys and Poets is one business many people wanted to see come here, but of course that one will never open in Silver Spring for the STUPIDEST REASON POSSIBLE.  Something like Tryst in Adams Morgan would be good, only minus all the laptop hobos. Buying a single latte does not entitle you and your MacBook to monopolize a sofa for three hours.


5. A Redbox in DTSS

There are Redboxes set up outside a lot of CVS stores... why not at the new one in DTSS? That would be quite convenient. It would also be appropriate, considering the original tenant of that space was a Hollywood Video.


UPDATE: One thing I should have included on this list - Julia's Empanadas. I think a place like that would do well in S.S.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

"The Community" Suffers Flesh Wound, Will No Doubt Continue Fighting Townhouses Indefinitely


The Leave the Zone Alone movement suffered a bit of a setback last week, as the Planning Board unanimously approved a revised plan for EYA's Chelsea Court townhouses which includes a concession from the developer reducing the number of planned homes from 76 to 64. This outcome is, of course, completely unsatisfactory to many members of SOECA, who claim that the mere existence of these townhouses will "ruin the community spirit"of the neighborhood. They can take solace in the fact that there remains two additional stages of approval at which they can protest the plan, including an ultimate review by the county council. There's always a councilperson who can be persuaded by the threat of a few lost votes to hold up any development project indefinitely. A handful of "outraged" voters will always trump progress and economic development in MoCo.

I have never quite understood where there's such opposition to these townhomes. It's not like the state is condemning their houses to build a train line or anything. Perhaps if I lived directly across the street from the project, I might consider placing a Leave the Zone Alone Sign in my yard (ok, no I wouldn't), but even that situation doesn't seem like it would be all that terrible. Visually, a collection of well designed-homes seems infinitely preferable to an school (abandoned or not) surrounded by a chain link fence. In addition, I think it's kind of dark and scary over by the library at night, so if anything adding greater residential density might make that stretch of Ellsworth feel safer. And as I've mentioned before, there's an existing high rise apartment building on one side of the parcel and a retirement community on the other. The low-density ship sailed a long time ago.

And is there really a legitimate threat of increased traffic? Let's say an average of one car from each of the sixty-four proposed homes is exiting or entering the neighborhood once over the entire course of a rush hour period. Is that volume going to result in a noticeable increase in neighborhood traffic congestion? Besides, I would venture that many of the potential homebuyers who would pay the premium attached to housing in a Metro-accessible location such as this would be doing so because they take public transportation to work. I'm also unsure where the concern about cut-through traffic comes from, as there are already "DO NOT ENTER" signs installed at all entrances to the neighborhood from the downtown area.

BONUS: Here's an ad for the Evanswood neighborhood from when it was first developed many years ago. I wonder if back then neighborhood farmers banded together against the Evanswood development, complaining that the area shouldn't be re-zoned for single-family houses.


19320521 Evanswood Ad.jpg