Here’s your retail & restaurant scoop for the week of Oct. 4, 2018.
Dawson's Market exiting Rockville Town Square
Rockville Town Square suffered a major blow this week when longtime anchor tenant Dawson’s Market announced plans to close at the end of October. The natural-foods grocery store had been an integral part of downtown Rockville for the past six years, offering a full schedule of foodie events from beer tastings to cooking classes to Sunday jazz brunches. Dawson’s owners, who operate a similar grocery store in Richmond, VA, said the Rockville location simply wasn’t profitable. Dawson’s joins a long list of failed businesses at Rockville Town Square, including the just-closed Mellow Mushroom. (More on that in our Sept. 27th edition.)
Just as Dawson’s Market gets ready to move out of Rockville, Aldi is moving in. Nov. 1 is opening day for the German grocer, which has taken over the former H.H. Gregg space near Bed Bath & Beyond on Rockville Pike. Aldi, which plans to open 2,500 new U.S. stores in the next four years, is known for its low prices, private-label brands, intentionally limited product lines and random surprise “treasure hunt” items. Customers bring their own bags, pack their own groceries and even pay a (refundable) 25-cent fee to use the shopping carts. Recently Aldi announced a new focus on organic, vegetarian, takeout and ready-to-cook foods as it tries to do a better job of catering to American palates.
Gourmet popsicles and ramen at the mall
New food at Westfield Montgomery mall: Ejji Ramen has opened its doors, and a gourmet popsicle stand is on the way this fall. Pop Culture Craft Pops, taking over the former B/Bop/Q space later this month, will offer freshly made frozen treats with intriguing flavors like pumpkin spice latte, honey almond butter banana, pineapple jalapeño and chili papaya lime (shown here). Pop Culture’s owners, Joel Rogozinski and Holly Bagwell, are following a trend that has been… uh… popularized these past few years in hot-weather states like Florida, California and the Carolinas. This winter, they’ll also warm things up with nitro coffee and hot chocolate plus kombucha and fresh-brewed teas. There’s another Pop Culture in Loudon County, and plans are in the works for a third one in Georgetown. “We’re not just doing this for one store,” Rogozinski says. “We intend to make this a national brand.”
New look, new Silver Diner for Rio
Rio Washingtonian Center has announced plans for a $30 million upgrade over the next two years, including improvements to the boardwalk and pedestrian bridge, a new performance stage and a redesigned lakefront seating area. An indoor/outdoor Silver Diner will open along the water next summer, joining a list of upcoming tenants that now includes Yard House, Dave & Buster’s, Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles, Kung Fu Tea and The Baked Bear. And the AMC movie theater is almost done with a renovation of its own: Snazzy new reclining seats, an expanded menu and a bar are all set to debut next month.