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Trader Joe's foods


Trader Joe’s update: Hello Travilah, Goodbye Gaithersburg

After months of speculation about a new Trader Joe’s at Travilah Square Shopping Center, the California-based grocer has signed on the dotted line. A 13,000-square-foot store will open in late 2017 or early 2018 at the intersection of Travilah and Darnestown roads. This is good news for North Potomac but bad news for Gaithersburg: A Trader Joe’s spokesman tells us the company will be closing its store on Contour Road in Montgomery Village on the same day the Travilah store opens. No need to worry about the other Rockville store at Federal Plaza: That location isn’t going anywhere.



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Sushi burritos at Wildwood

Buredo, the two-year-old D.C. eatery known for its burrito-sized sushi rolls, is heading to Wildwood Shopping Center on Old Georgetown Road. Plans call for a spring opening in the space that previously belonged to Fraîche Cupcakery. This will be the first Maryland location for Buredo, which has earned an avid fan following for its generously sized seaweed wraps with a surprising mix of ingredients. (Sample roll: the Pai Mei with salmon sashimi, asparagus, pea shoot leaves, pickled red onion, daikon, katsuo mirin crunch and toasted sesame mayo.) Click here to check out the menu. And click here to read last week’s report on another D.C. sushi restaurant that’s opening right across the street.



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Chili's sign


Goodbye Chili’s

This week we say goodbye to Chili’s in North Bethesda, which has closed its doors after 25 years on Rockville Pike. Although the exit was blamed on plans to demolish the building, we think there’s more to that story: Chili’s has been quietly reducing its presence in the D.C. area for several years, including recent closings in Tysons Corner and Crystal City. The good news for Tex-Mex fans: Chuy’s is now open at Federal Plaza. Click here to check it out.



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Gifts from Appalachian Spring, JT Interiors and Leila Fine Gifts & Jewels

Gifts from Red Orchard, Occasions and As Kindred Spirits

Our picks for great gifts

With colder weather just around the corner, it’s not too early to start thinking about holiday shopping. In the next few weeks we’ll have news about craft markets, gift boutiques and holiday open houses. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to our favorite locally owned gift shops.

  • Appalachian Spring: The Congressional Plaza location is part of a four-store chain focusing on handmade products by American artists, most of which are functional as well as beautiful. Wood and glass are the primary materials here, from jewelry boxes and cutting boards to hand-blown vases and luminous dinnerware — plus a large collection of kaleidescopes. “That’s my favorite part of the store,” says co-owner David Brooks. Details at
  • As Kindred Spirits: Owner Wendy “Rukmini” Walker travels the world for handmade clothing, accessories and jewelry, as well as decorative household objects from clocks to frames to wine bottle holders. If you’re looking for Roman glass pendants, men’s silk ties or scarves from India, you’ll find them here. The Congressional Plaza store is the flagship, with an outpost at Reagan National Airport, but Walker is in talks to return to Westfield Montgomery Mall. Details at
  • JT Interiors: The go-to place for gifts in Potomac Village, JT Interiors makes the most of its charming setting inside a house at 9906 River Road. From guest towels, pillows and stylish handbags to serving platters, bowls and baskets, decorative objects are displayed in a way that makes it easy to imagine them in your own home. And for those who can’t get enough of the whole look, the store also offers interior design services. Details at the JT Interiors Facebook page.
  • Leila Fine Gifts & Jewels: At Cabin John Shopping Center near California Tortilla, Leila is the place for unique hostess gifts, decorative kitchenware, colorful glass and crystal, and a wide variety of affordable jewelry. If you’re looking for a mitzvah gift or a lovely piece of Judaica, you’ll find plenty of choices here. Owner Deb Shalom says she’s always on the lookout for gifts that are “fun, beautiful and functional — all at a comfortable price point.” Details at
  • Occasions: Inside Cabin John Mall across from McDonald’s, Occasions carries a wide selection of Scout and Vera Bradley bags, housewares, wooden signs, paper goods, jewelry and gifts for babies, teens and tweens. The store also specializes in monogrammed and personalized items, from notepads to cocktail napkins. Details at
  • Red Orchard: A longtime fixture at Wildwood Shopping Center, Red Orchard has moved away from its original focus on American-made furniture to specialize in artisan-produced home accessories that are “interesting, funky and functional,” says co-owner Caroline Liberty. Here you’ll find a unique and modern selection of decorative kitchenware, wall art, kids’ gifts, bath and body items, handmade jewelry and local gourmet foods. Details at
  • Silver Moon Jewelry & Accessories: This is the new incarnation of the former Tiara Galleries & Gifts, still at Congressional Plaza but now focused primarily on jewelry and handbags. Figurines and ceramic pieces have largely disappeared to make way for Pandora and Alex and Ani, plus a variety of lesser-known jewelry lines and handbags by Vera Bradley and Spartina. Details at



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Salad and appetizers


Tell us about your favorites

We’re working on more Store Reporter Favorites for upcoming issues, and we’d love to hear about your go-to places in the greater Rockville/Potomac area. Tell us your picks for date night, fast casual meals, fabulous desserts and party venues. And if you know of any hidden gems — either stores or restaurants that our readers should hear about — please tell us about those too. Email your favorites to



Capital Area Food Bank fundraiser:




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 Filicori Zecchini "Coming Soon" sign at Park Potomac


The latest on Park Potomac

Coffee and margaritas will be flowing at Park Potomac this winter as two new tenants look to open in the next few months. Filicori Zecchini, an Italian coffee house known for its rich espressos and cappuccinos, is on track to launch by early December. A tasting tent at the Park Potomac Fall Festival “got amazing feedback and really got us excited to open,” says owner Laila Asmar. Gringos & Mariachis, the second location for the popular Bethesda restaurant, will arrive sometime after the holidays. For more on Park Potomac’s new lineup, click here.



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The Big Greek Cafe


Get your Greek on

The Big Greek Cafe, a family-owned restaurant known for its generous portions and home-style cooking, opens its third location this week at 5268 Nicholson Lane. “My family has always been in the restaurant business,” says co-owner Simos Marmaras, whose father Vassilios “Bill” Marmaras once ran the Golden Flame restaurant in Silver Spring. “It was always my mother’s dream to open a more casual restaurant that would use all of her recipes that we grew up with,” Marmaras says. “After she died, my brother and I decided to do it.” The Big Greek Cafe is open for lunch, dinner and takeout service; click here to check out the menu.



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Maki Shop hand roll


New sushi at Georgetown Square

Maki Shop, a D.C. sushi restaurant known for its creatively stuffed hand rolls, is heading to Bethesda’s Georgetown Square Shopping Center. Broker Rich Amsellem of Streetsense, who also handled the lease for neighbor Not Your Average Joe’s, says Maki Shop should open early next year. To see what’s on the menu, click here.



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Life Time Athletic Gaithersburg spin bikes


Life Time Gaithersburg is ready to roll

Oct. 20th is opening day for the new Life Time Athletic club in Gaithersburg, just off I-370 at Washingtonian Boulevard. The three-story center will have far more amenities than its smaller sister in Rockville, including a boxing studio, two basketball courts, kids’ classes, and indoor and outdoor pools with water slides. Click here for a sneak peek.



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FAO Schwartz entrance


FAO Schwarz to rise again

The FAO Schwarz brand, which was sold to Toys ‘R’ Us eight years ago, changed hands again this week when the name was purchased by a California toy manufacturer. The new owner, ThreeSixty Group, makes licensed toys for Discovery Kids, Animal Planet, Sharper Image and other retailers. Plans call for a new line of FAO Schwarz toys to debut at “select retailers” next fall, with a possible brick-and-mortar store to replace the iconic Manhattan location that closed last year. For more on ThreeSixty Group’s plans for FAO Schwarz, click here.



2016 JT Interiors house ad 1200



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Lucky Strike Social


No bowling at the mall this fall

Remember the bowling alley that was supposed to open this summer at Westfield Montgomery Mall? As we move into fall with construction barely under way, we thought it was time for a check-in with California-based Lucky Strike. “We’re now looking at the first quarter of 2017,” says company spokesman Brandon Thomsen. “We’re excited to come to Bethesda, but some details of the project are still evolving.” This will be the second location for the company’s new Lucky Strike Social concept, which recently launched in Albany with 18 bowling lanes, a full kitchen and bar, a concert hall/party room, and a variety of games from billiards to old-school arcades. For a preview of what’s on the way, click here.



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Potomac Day Spa


Potomac Day Spa closes

Potomac Day Spa, operating out of a cute little house in Potomac Village for more than two decades, has quietly closed its doors. “The rent here is just crazy expensive, and we had been struggling for a long time,” says owner Angela Hay, who bought the spa four years ago and shut it down last Saturday. The business had little walk-in traffic, Hay says, and it’s been increasingly difficult to compete with larger operations like Red Door and the new Woodhouse Day Spa on Rockville Pike. “The older people liked our quaintness, but the younger people like to go to places that are trendy,” Hay says. “I just couldn’t keep pouring money into something that wasn’t going to survive.”



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Rolling out a new ice cream trend

Thai rolled ice cream, a Southeast Asian street food that’s trending across the country, has arrived in downtown Rockville. Class 520 (the name is a play on the Chinese phrase for “I love you”) opens Saturday on Dawson Avenue just off North Washington Street. Each dessert is made fresh when you order, starting with a liquid ice cream base that’s poured over a cold grill until it freezes over. “Then we add the mix-ins and run it over with a spatula to shape it into curls, so you wind up with a hard texture that slowly melts,” says manager Adam Shi. Virtually unknown in the U.S. until recently, Thai-style ice cream has popped up in foodie cities from Los Angeles to New York to Philadelphia in the past 12 months. “We believe that ours is the first one in Maryland,” Shi says. “It’s a trendy food that’s familiar to the Asian population, so we think it will do very well in this area.” Want to see how it works? Click here for a video demo.



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Root vegetables


Ready for Rosh Hashanah?

If you’re hosting a crowd for the Jewish holidays this year, there’s still time to order from Potomac Grocer. On the menu for Rosh Hashanah: onion-braised brisket, pomegranate molasses-glazed salmon, lemon honey roasted chicken, sweet potato-carrot tzimmes, noodle pudding and much more. Pre-ordering is recommended, but some dishes will be available à la carte while they last. Potomac Grocer, 10107 River Road, 301-299-4200. For the catering menu, click here.





Here’s a product that takes balls

Look out Nike and Under Armour: Lululemon is going after the men. In an interview this week with, Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin says he hopes to double the company’s male customer base from 20 percent to 40 percent of its sales. Potdevin has a pretty good track record in this arena, having previously helped drive more male customers to Tom’s Shoes and more females to Burton Snowboards. This fall Lululemon is showcasing a new line of men’s pants called “ABC” — as in Anti-Ball Crushing. Wondering just how they’re going to promote this product? We did too. Click here.



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Cosi sandwich


Bad week for Cosi

The Cosi restaurant chain, which exited downtown Rockville two years ago, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Almost half of the company’s corporate-owned locations, including the one in downtown Bethesda, closed their doors this week. Thirty-one locations owned by franchisees, including one on Wisconsin Avenue, are expected to remain open. For more on Cosi’s bankruptcy, click here.



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The Woodhouse Day Spa North Bethesda


New spa opens on Rockville Pike

The Woodhouse Day Spa, under construction for more than a year at North Bethesda Market on Rockville Pike, is officially open for business. This is the first Maryland location for the Texas-based chain, which offers massage, skin care and mani/pedis as well as specialty services like warm spiced mud wraps and aromatherapy sleep treatments. Not on the spa menu: Anything to do with hair. “We didn’t want any whir of hair dryers or smell of hair chemicals to take away from the experience at our spa,” says franchise owner Peter Dychkewich, a former investment banker. “We paid great attention to design details, right down to the eight-foot mahogany doors. We want this place to feel like you’re in an old European manor house.” The grand opening party is happening this Saturday (Sept. 24th); click here for details.



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Almost time for Tex-Mex on the Pike

Chuy’s is set to open its doors Oct. 4 at Federal Plaza on Rockville Pike, where construction crews have been working all summer to renovate the former Ruby Tuesday space. This is the first Maryland location for the Tex-Mex chain, known for its made-from-scratch menu, fresh margaritas and kitschy decor. We’ve been hearing good buzz from readers who have tried Chuy’s in Virginia. For a preview of the menu, click here.



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MET Bethesda


Goodbye MET Bethesda & Hooters

In case you missed our special edition earlier this week: MET Bethesda, the upscale restaurant across from the ArcLight Cinema at Westfield Montgomery Mall, made an unexpected exit last weekend after less than two years in business. Click here for more on the demise of MET, the fifth restaurant to close at Montgomery Mall since May. Hooters on Rockville Pike also closed its doors last weekend after losing its liquor license in the wake of a fatal drunk driving accident.



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Ready for Rosh Hashanah?

If you’re hosting a crowd for the Jewish holidays this year, Potomac Grocer makes it easy. On the menu for Rosh Hashanah: onion-braised brisket, pomegranate molasses-glazed salmon, lemon honey roasted chicken, sweet potato-carrot tzimmes, noodle pudding and much more. Pre-ordering is recommended, but some dishes will be available à la carte while they last. Potomac Grocer, 10107 River Road, 301-299-4200. For the catering menu, click here




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Softest store at the mall

Here’s a sure sign that cooler weather is on the way: Sheepskin Gifts & Alpaca Too, a seasonal tenant at Westfield Montgomery Mall, has returned for the winter in a new space next to Brookstone. The store carries a surprising variety of gifts and clothing, from sweaters, shawls and coats to hats, gloves and boots for adults and kids. (Biggest draw for men: the sheepskin moccasins with gel soles, priced at $69.99). The store’s owners manufacture many of their own products; click here to see what else they carry.




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MET Bethesda


MET Bethesda closes its doors

MET Bethesda, the upscale restaurant on the third floor of Westfield Montgomery Mall, closed its doors over the weekend after less than two years in business. MET had earned a loyal following for its classic American menu, quiet atmosphere and sharp-looking martini bar. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the restaurant’s lack of an exterior entrance, which made it too dependent on traffic from the ArcLight Cinema across the hall. “We were on the third floor of a two-story mall,” one employee tells us. “Our food was great, but people only came on Friday and Saturday nights when they were going to the movies.” MET Bethesda’s parent company, which owns four other restaurants in Massachusetts, could not be reached at press time. This is the fifth restaurant to close at Westfield Montgomery Mall since May, following the departures of Blaze Pizza, Lobster ME, Jamaican Mi Crazy and Chloe’s Deli. See more in our May 23 and June 2 editions.



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