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Raw fish is all the rage

Sushi burritos and poke bowls are having a moment as we welcome some new restaurants in the Rockville/Bethesda suburbs. Buredo, set to open in the next few weeks at Wildwood Shopping Center, features hand-held rolls stuffed with avocado, cucumber, tempura flakes, sriracha mayo and other ingredients that complement the raw fish. The menu will be similar at Maki Shop, opening later this year at Georgetown Square just across the street. And Honeyfish Poke, scheduled to debut this month at Congressional Plaza, features Hawaiian-style bowls of raw fish with rice and toppings. Meanwhile, Shanghai Bao Kitchen at Westfield Montgomery Mall has dropped its original dumplings-and-veggies concept for a new menu that focuses on… you guessed it, sushi burritos and poke bowls.






Craft from URBNmarket vendors


Weekend plan: URBNmarket

URBNmarket, a two-day showcase of handmade and vintage goods, returns to Park Potomac this weekend with plenty of fab finds as well as music, food and kids’ activities. The show kicks off Friday (June 2) from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m., continuing Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grassy square across from Harris Teeter. Be sure to stop by the Store Reporter table on Friday — or the information table on Saturday — for a chance to win some great gift cards from Founding Farmers, Sugo, JT Interiors, O’Donnell’s Market and Orangetheory Fitness. For more on URBNmarket and this year’s vendors, click here.



Gifts at JT Interiors:





Will Blaze ever be back?

It’s been a year since Blaze Pizza abruptly closed its doors at Westfield Montgomery Mall, citing poor signage and lack of foot traffic at its tucked-away location across from Aroma. At the time, a company spokesman promised that Blaze would be back with a higher-profile space not far away. This week we checked in to see how those plans are coming along. Sadly for all you Blaze fans, they’re not. “No other location planned for the area at this time,” says spokesman Joshua Levitt. “Sorry!”



Realtor Lisa Nasar of Long & Foster:







Vases at Appalachian Spring


One less store for Appalachian Spring

Appalachian Spring, one of the longest-running craft and jewelry stores in the D.C. area, is closing its Georgetown location after nearly half a century. “We got to the end of our lease on Wisconsin Avenue, and it was just too expensive to do it over again,” says owner David Brooks. “It’s not a wonderful climate right now.” The Rockville store at Congressional Plaza is having a good year, Brooks says, and the Union Station and Reston stores are at least holding their own. “We may look for another place that doesn’t cannibalize our existing locations,” he says, “but we haven’t found it yet.” To see what’s hot this summer at Appalachian Spring, click here.



Jenny Camps Personal Training ad:




Michael Kors handbag


Michael Kors closing stores

The latest company to announce widespread store closings is luxury retailer Michael Kors, which says it will shutter up to 125 of its 800-plus locations before the end of 2017. Sales of the company’s handbags and apparel have been falling this past year, even as Michael Kors tried to regain its upscale image by reducing its presence at discount-happy department stores. So what does all this mean for the Michael Kors store at Westfield Montgomery Mall? Staffers say they haven’t been told yet. “Those decisions are going to come later,” says one employee. “As far as I know, we’re not going anywhere.”



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Cabin John Mall


What’s next for Cabin John?

It’s been six months since Cabin John Shopping Center & Mall was sold to EDENS, a national firm with extensive holdings in the D.C. area. The new owners have been quiet about their plans up to now, but rumors have been swirling about new construction on the back parking lot and possible housing units to be built above the stores and restaurants. An EDENS spokesman tells us she can’t comment on those rumors just yet, but she expects to release info on several new tenants in the weeks to come. (See our May 18th edition to find out who just moved into the mini-mall.) Stay tuned to Store Reporter as this story unfolds.



Pike Central Farm Market:




URBNmarket at Park Potomac:






Dave & Buster’s back in the game?

Have you missed Dave & Buster’s since the White Flint Mall was torn down? We hear the gaming center is about to make a comeback — this time at Rio Washingtonian Centerin Gaithersburg. Likely location is the Sport & Health space on Washingtonian Boulevard, which emptied out this week when the fitness center lost its lease. Dave & Buster’s, known for its hoops and arcade games since 1982, has been adding bowling and billiards at its newest locations.



JT Interiors in Potomac Village:




Norman's Farm Market:




Leilabox from Leila Jewels


Jewels to your door

Leila Fine Gifts & Jewels, celebrating its fifth anniversary at Cabin John Shopping Center, is launching a monthly subscription service for jewelry. “What’s more fun than getting a box in the mail?” asks owner Deb Shalom, whose LeilaBox concept is loosely modeled on popular services like Birchbox and Stitch Fix. Members pay $22 a month for three surprise pieces that can be borrowed indefinitely, purchased at a discount or sent back immediately with no shipping charges. “This is jewelry from terrific unfamiliar designers that you would normally only find at funky little boutiques, not the kind that you can buy anytime at Macy’s,” Shalom says. Click here for details.



Bagel City party platters:




Elephant topiary at Westfield Montgomery Mall


Flower show at the mall

Montgomery in Bloom, a six-week flower fest at Westfield Montgomery Mall, is now open in the lower level of the Nordstrom wing. Inspired by the Macy’s Flower Show in New York City, the event features topiaries, product samples, painting parties and other floral-themed happenings through the end of June. Click here for more photos on our Facebook page.



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Karma by Erwin Gomez


D.C. salon expanding to Potomac

Karma by Erwin Gomez, a D.C. salon headed by a celeb makeup artist, is expanding to Park Potomac with a new location on the ground floor of The Perry. “We will be full-service, offering makeup, brows, lashes, skin care, body bronzing and spray tanning as well as hair,” says co-owner Sab Shad. “We’ll have a fun, loungy feel for bridal parties and other groups to hang out while they get ready for their big event.” Shad is a veteran of the Red Door chain, where partner Gomez got his start before moving on to celeb clients like Eva Longoria and Jennifer Garner. Plans call for a February opening; click here for more info.






Rack of clothing from Oak


New venture for Mustard Seed owner

After 25 years with Mustard Seed, the secondhand clothing store on Wisconsin Avenue, co-founder Gayle Herrmann is striking out on her own. The Oak boutique opened last week at 10511 Metropolitan Ave. in Kensington, a 10-minute drive from Rockville Pike and worlds away from the traffic of downtown Bethesda. “I wanted to do something different, in a less hectic area with more parking where I could really connect with people,” Herrmann says. While Mustard Seed was known for its vintage and recently recycled clothing, Oak ( carries all-new merchandise with a weekend-casual vibe. “We specialize in comfy and loose but hip things that you won’t find at Nordstrom,” she says. “We don’t carry jeans. I really think people want easy stuff right now.” As for Mustard Seed, the store is still in business under a new name: Remix.



Pike Central Farm Market:




Say Yes For Less at Cabin John Mall


Cabin John puts a ring on it

Say Yes for Less, a bridal boutique featuring high-end gowns at deep discounts, has opened its doors at Cabin John Mall in the second-floor space above Zohra. Owner Pamela Vito may be new to Potomac shoppers, but she’s no stranger to wedding dresses: She and her mother ran Hannelore’s Bridal Boutique in Old Town Alexandria for more than 30 years. “Having been in the industry for so long, I have stores across the country that are willing to send me their samples,” Vito says. “These are dresses that have been discontinued — some just recently — and I’m selling them at a dramatically reduced price.” Vito stocks about 300 gowns in a variety of sizes, with most priced between $1,500 and $3,000. The store is open by appointment only, click here for details.



Bagel City party platters:




Plates from Bibibop


Asian fusion’s back at Pike & Rose

Opening this Monday (May 22nd) in North Bethesda: Bibibop Asian Grill, the successor to ShopHouse Asian Kitchen at Pike & Rose. Shophouse, a failed spinoff of Chipotle, went out of business this spring and sold all of its 15 locations to Ohio-based Bibibop. The new menu isn’t all that different from the old one, with bowls of rice or greens topped by vegetables, proteins and Asian sauces. Click here to check it out.



Realtor Lisa Nasar of Long & Foster:




Bell Flowers at Strathmore Square


Flowers and food on the go

This week marked the launch of Strathmore Square, a six-week pop-up market running Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station. “This is a chance for commuters to pick up things like flowers, rotisserie chicken and fresh bread on their way home,” says Ron Kaplan of D.C.-based Fivesquares, which is testing the market for a long-term retail plan. Participating vendors include Ibhana, Grandma Vera’s and The Red Bandana Bakery, selling everything from bouquets and sun hats to prepared meals, juices and pastries. Instead of the usual pop-up tents and kiosks, Fivesquares hired an artist to build mini-storefronts from the sliced-up remains of a retired Metro car. Click here for a video showing how it was done.



URBNmarket at Park Potomac:




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Croissants from Fresh Baguette


New French bakery for Rockville

Fresh Baguette, a Bethesda bakery with a stellar reputation, is heading to Rockville this summer with a new location at 804 Hungerford Drive. What to expect? Scratch-baked French bread, croissants, tarts, macarons, Viennese pastries, custom-made sandwiches and a dozen other reasons to leave your skinny jeans at home. The Rockville location, featuring a picture window where you can watch the bakers at work, will fulfill orders for wholesale clients like Ritz-Carlton and the Watergate Hotel. “Most of our bakers were trained in France,” says wholesale director Vincent Mathieu. “We do things the traditional way, exactly the same as it’s done there.” To see what’s in the oven, click here.



Taff & Levine D.D.S.:




Pike Central Farm Market:




CSNY Pizza


New York pizza on the Pike

CSNY Pizza, the long-awaited spinoff to Rockville favorite Pizza CS, quietly opened for lunch this week at 1020 Rockville Pike. Hours will be expanded in the next week or two, says co-owner Ankur Rajpara, who runs the six-year-old business with partner Jonathan Allen. The pair have a reputation for perfectionism, having traveled to Italy and deeply researched Neapolitan cooking techniques before they launched their first restaurant at Twinbrook Metro Center. The new place, in tighter quarters at Edmonston Crossing, offers New York-style pizza with a focus on takeout and delivery. Click here for more in our Jan 5 edition — and click here if you missed last week’s story on the closings of two nearby Italian restaurants, Pie 360 and Brio Tuscan Grille.



Home delivery fro Norman's Farm Market:




Bagel City:






Flowers and fun at the mall

If you’ve ever been to the Macy’s Flower Show in New York City, you’ll like what’s about to happen at Westfield Montgomery Mall. May 16th marks the kickoff of Montgomery in Bloom, a six-week flower party with floral-themed food and tea tastings, perfume samplings, fashion shows, yoga classes, hand massages, makeup tutorials and some dazzling flower displays. It’s all happening on the lower level of the Nordstrom wing, where you can also join Wednesday night paint-and-pour events to benefit Children’s National Medical Center. Click here for dates and details.



Silver Moon Jewelry & Accessories:




Sonoran Rose boutique:




Bebe store at Westfield Montgomery Mall


Bye bye Bebe

Things are looking pretty bare at the Bebe store at Westfield Montgomery Mall, which will close its doors at the end of this month. Bebe, a retail darling of the ’90s, is shuttering all of its 160-plus locations after years of declining sales. The company initially said it would stay in business as an online retailer, but it’s now unclear whether that will actually happen.



Lavaloka activewear:




URBNmarket at Park Potomac:



Goggles at Cassel's


News splash

Aardvark Swim & Sport, a fixture at Wintergreen Plaza for more than two decades, is heading into pool season with a new name and a new owner. The store was purchased by Virginia businessman Lee Cassel, a longtime sporting goods retailer who operates a similar store in Herndon as well as a sports complex just down the road. “I’ve known Aardvark owner Bob York for years, as he and I had competing stores in Virginia,” Cassel says. “When I got wind that he was going to retire, we worked out a deal for me to take over this location.” The Wintergreen store, which will now be called Cassel’s Swim & Awards, will also offer custom plaques, trophies and personalized signs. For more on Cassel’s, click here.



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Brio Tuscan Grille and Pie 360 off Rockville Pike


Two restaurants exit Rockville Pike

This week marks the closing of two Italian restaurants off Rockville Pike: Fine-dining fixture Brio Tuscan Grille, which lasted five years, and fast-casual pizza joint Pie 360, which didn’t even make it to five months. Brio, one of the original tenants at North Bethesda Market, was a popular spot for large parties but had trouble filling so many tables on a day-to-day basis. Pie 360, a short-lived experiment from the Coal Fire pizza chain, had been one of the first restaurants to open at the new Galvan complex off Twinbrook Parkway. Pie 360 also closed its seven-month-old location on D.C.’s K Street.



Pike Central Farm Market




Mother's Day Tea Tasting at JT Interiors:




Westlake Crossing


New restaurant for Westlake Crossing

Peruvian chicken chain Don Pollo is heading to Westlake Crossing, the shopping center just outside Westfield Montgomery Mall. Plans call for a fall opening next to Corner Bakery, in the former Roti space that’s been vacant for more than a year. In addition to its juicy chicken, Don Pollo serves traditional Peruvian dishes like lomo saltado, ceviche and aguadito soup. Click here to check out the menu.



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Sears store at Westfield Montgomery Mall


Sears store changing hands

Chicago-based Sears, which is unloading real estate across the country, has sold its Westfield Montgomery Mall store for $73.5 million. The buyer? Westfield Corp., the mall’s owner. If you think this means the Sears store is finally going to close, think again. The Washington Business Journal says a leaseback deal will ensure that business goes on as usual, at least for the short term. For the long term, Westfield isn’t revealing its plans — but we’re betting the Sears space could eventually become the site of a modern home goods retailer like West Elm or Crate & Barrel







Pandora for Mother’s Day at Silver Moon

If there’s a mom in your life who loves Pandora jewelry, Silver Moon at Congressional Plaza is the place to check out this year’s Mother’s Day collection. Shown here: The “Tree of Hearts” bangle bracelet, engraved with the words “You are so loved” ($125), and the “Tribute to Mom” gift set with snake chain bracelet in a pink zippered case ($195). Or keep it simple with the “I Love My Mom” charm, in sterling silver with cubic zirconia stones for just $60. Silver Moon Jewelry & Accessories, 1659 Rockville Pike at Congressional Plaza; (301) 468-1122 or visit





Park Potomac Spring Festival:




Leather shoe from Vinci


Another shoe store heading to the mall

Vinci, a Pennsylvania-based retailer specializing in handmade leather shoes, is moving into the former Sheepskin Gifts space at Westfield Montgomery Mall. Vinci carries styles for both men and women, with prices mostly in the $150 to $200 range. Vinci is the second new shoe store heading to the mall this year; see our April 6th edition for details on the upcoming Kicks USA.



Bonobos at Westfield Montgomery Mall


Walmart buying Bonobos?

Bonobos, the upscale men’s clothing retailer known for its well-fitting pants, is expected to be acquired by Walmart in the next few months. This pairing is not as odd as it may seem: Walmart has been diversifying its holdings with the purchase of several trendy e-commerce sites — including Shoebuy, Moosejaw and ModCloth — that give it access to fashion-conscious customers who likely wouldn’t be caught dead buying clothes at Bonobos is a web-based business with a handful of physical stores, including the one at Westfield Montgomery Mall, where customers can try clothes in person but still make their purchases online. It’s unclear whether this acquisition would ultimately lead to Bonobos clothes being sold on Walmart’s website.



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