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  1. the wine merchant is pretty good too, not that good california wine is hard to find in this neck of the woods, so that you can gather everything you need for a picnic. the coit tower is within walking distance, and you may run into the parrots on your way up telegraph hill, as we did by accident. off the piers in the vicinity you can watch locals haul in illegal baby sharks and throw them back in if they think someone might be watching. the water may not be as pristine as it appears. my wife reminds me not to forget the imperial tea court.
  2. There have been a couple of relatively large changes in the relatively small Lee-Jackson Station shopping center on the South side of Route 50 in the heart of Chantilly this year. The buffet on the far left of the shopping center has changed - it used to be the second location of Il Mee, and as you can see above, was at one time called Super Buffet (this may have been part of Sichuan Village, but I've never been inside). Just yesterday, I noticed it's now called something else, but it's still an Asian buffet. I can't remember the newest name. [Correction: I'm wrong - it still says "Super Buffet."] Right next door, what used to be the second location of Annangol (like with Il Mee, the first location of both of these still remains in Annandale) has changed also: It's now SGD Tofu House (which may be an outlet of a NJ chain with a similar name). Pastry Corner bakery, the second outlet of an Ashburn bakery (at Lotte Center) still remains.
  3. Fallsgrove Village Center is operated by Lerner Retail (yes, those Lerners), and is the closest sign of civilization - assuming you can call this civilization - to Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical, i.e., Shady Grove Hospital: It's right across Shady Grove Road from it. The hub of this large, modern, "village-looking" shopping center is a huge Safeway, and you'll see in a minute why it will come in handy, should you ever be laid up at the hospital. There is *nothing* - and I mean nothing - of culinary interest in the entire shopping center. Not one thing. About the only "novel" thing is a California franchise, Melt Gelato, but don't be fooled into thinking you've stumbled upon a mom-n-pop; you haven't: Well, I suppose it's "novel" that Krispy Kreme has a drive-thru window (which it does): Food-wise, even though it's gone seriously downhill in the past 25 years, you might as well try Moby Dick: Or, if it's for a hospital patient, then Smoothie King: If you're in college, there's a WingStop: I'd always wondered if Taipei Tokyo was a hairstylist or a restaurant: And I have Cheeburger Cheeburger ranked among the *worst* hamburger chains in the DC area: I've eaten there precisely once, nor will I ever go back: DanielK says there's one Mamma Lucia that's good in Rockville, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't mean this one: It should come as no surprise what your other four choices are: But, I did save the one-and-only best bet for last. Never has a shopping center needed this place as much as FallsGrove Village Center does:
  4. Pan Am Shopping Center is run by Federal Realty Investment Trust (I guess making it part of a "REIT"), and its main hub, Micro Center, has been a magnet for computer users all over the region for many, many years - I don't remember it ever not being there, although it can't be *that* old: There are currently 25 locations nationwide, and I suspect that the company must be trying to shift over to online purchasing - I wouldn't be betting the farm on walk-in computer retailers right now. Regardless, they've served a very valuable purpose for a long time, and should be remembered, regardless of what the future holds. There's also a Safeway tucked into the northeast corner of the shopping center, functioning as a secondary hub (the Safeway may actually be larger and busier, but the Micro Center is (or was) of more importance). Michael's is the other large retailer here, unless you want to include CVS. In terms of the Culinary Arts (now *there's* a term that has never been written in the same sentence as "Pan Am Shopping Center"), people have a surprising number of options, most of which are quick eats for shoppers on the go. For me, the most interesting thing about Pan Am Shopping Center is that it houses a Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese restaurant that are probably closer in proximity to each other than any other such triad in the Washington, DC area: Phở Thăng Long, Bangkok St., and Lo's: "Thăng Long" ("Soaring Dragon") was the capital of Đại Việt (during the first of its two periods) from 1010-1397, and has a long, complex, fascinating history that's worth reading about - you can literally get a PhD by studying this one sentence, if you take it far enough (well, why not?) Of particular, but fleeting, interest, seeing that there has been virtually no publicity about it, is California Shabu-Shabu, the third location of a California-based franchise (I assume it's a franchise), which just opened this past Monday: To the best of my knowledge, this is the only pure shabu-shabu restaurant in the area, although you can find shabu-shabu at other restaurants such as Tachibana. There are entire businesses whose models rely on breaking news such as this, with big, splashy, pictures and headlines; I just can't muster up the excitement. The stalwart, Greek-owned, family-centric Pan Am Restaurant has been in business for 25 years, and is typical of what you see in numerous strip malls across the Virginia suburbs (think: McLean Family Restaurant, La Casa, etc.): The sports bar and downscale restaurant franchise, Glory Days Grill, which surprisingly has a couple dozen locations nationwide (concentrated in Virginia and Maryland), unsurprisingly has one of them here: Not worthy of being photographed, but available in this shopping center, are a McDonald's right out by the entrance, and then tucked away in the relatively desolate Lee Highway side of Safeway: Baja Fresh, Starbucks, Domino's, and Subway.
  5. Ravensworth Shopping Center is managed by Stewart Commercial Realty Services, LLC. Restaurateurs: See below (*). Smith & Clarkson's, whose website is no longer accessible, has closed along with the Safeway next door, and apparently several other shops in the Ravensworth Shopping Center in Springfield (on Braddock Road, immediately outside the Beltway) These are becoming a Lotte (which I'm just now finding out is pronounced with a long "o" after about fifteen years). Rest assured, this is an indirect consequence of the 495 Express Lanes, which have a Braddock Road exit. Many people will be coming locally from Little River Turnpike, but the Express Lanes will encourage others to arrive as well. It's remarkable (literally, worthy of remark) that this new Lotte is opening so close to the one at Fairfax Circle. Demographically, it makes perfect sense, but I wonder if this is an addition, or a replacement. According to this post on fairfaxunderground.com (where there is some, um, "lively" discussion), Don McIlvaine, GM of Ravensworth Properties, LLC, tried to get Whole Foods to move in, but failed - presumably because they're resting comfortably down Rolling Road, in the heart of Springfield (I agree that switching locations would have been a bad demographic decision for Whole Foods; it seems like an excellent one for Lotte, assuming they'll be closing in Fairfax Circle (I have no knowledge about this one way or the other - it's just that the two locations would be very close together if Fairfax was to remain open)). Of key importance: The Swiss Bakery remains, for now - I pulled up just as they were closing on Wednesday, and a girl was locking the door, so I didn't get a chance to ask them what the future held. Despite the domination of Lotte (it's in that corner close to Braddock Road (**), and The Swiss Bakery will be even more invisible than it is now), I think this new anchor might help their business, and it might even help them tremendously (I can also see someone with the exact opposite initial instinct, and who knows what's going to happen to their rent in the future). Well, you can kiss parking at Ravensworth Shopping Center goodbye. Furthermore, an already-terrible intersection is about to become a Lotte more terrible - if you're coming up the outer loop of the Beltway (which many Koreans will be doing), you're going to *need* a Latte to stay awake while you wait for that single-lane stoplight. They're going to have to change things up a bit - I'm glad Matt's going to college. So long to Smith & Clarkson's, which has been under its current ownership since 2002 (but was open long before that under another owner). So long also to one of the Oldest Restaurants in the Washington, DC Area that you've probably never even heard of: Pizza Bazzano, which opened in 1967, and is also closing due to the advent (encroachment?) of Lotte. Of note: According to this article from October 18, 2014, on annandaleva.blogspot.com (who was the first source to report on the October 16 Town Hall meeting), Smith & Clarkson's is expanding into the Pizza Bazzano space. That said, I haven't seen any other, more recent, sources that verify this, so I can't confirm it; in fact, Ravensworth Shopping Center's website lists both Lotte and The Swiss Bakery as "Current Tenants," along with Kilroy's, but there's no mention of either Smith & Clarkson's or Pizza Bazzano. In fact, if you click on the picture immediately below, you can see that both Smith & Clarkson's and Pizza Bazzano's spaces appear to be vacant, whereas The Swiss Bakery's is still there. It's a wise move for Ravensworth Shopping Center to be keeping The Swiss Bakery - they are a *huge* asset, and if they were my tenant, I'd do everything I could to retain them and keep them happy. To The Swiss Bakery: Not accounting for any rent increases, my gut feel is that this is going to help your business going forward, quite a bit, once you get beyond construction. In fact, if you have a long-term lease, I'd say you've just won the lottery - I hope to hell you got it for 20 instead of 10. Regardless, I'll follow you wherever you go, and given how little space you inhabit, I'd even consider you a mini-anchor and cut you a deal - this *should* be a win-win for both you and your landlord, but I've seen money do really bad things to people, all too often. To the landlords: I know you don't know who I am, but I assure you I don't know a soul who is associated with The Swiss Bakery. Based on merit alone, I have them ranked in my Dining Guide ahead of Georgetown Cupcake as the #1 Bakery in the Washington, DC area that has Multiple Locations (since you haven't posted ten times, you won't be able to see it, so you'll either need to find someone that has, or just trust me on this one). (*) Note: 1618 7th St. NW is for lease: (**) It sure seems like the ideal placement for Lotte would be at the back end of that shopping center, doesn't it? Well, it's not a perfect world - this is going to be one serious bottleneck unless they force drivers to take the rear entrance.
  6. Shoppes at FoxChase is manged by KLNB Retail - it's now the primary retail center on Duke Street, between I-395 and Alexandria, now that Landmark Mall is a shadow of its former shadowy self (which I expect to change, given its prime location). Harris-Teeter is the hub of this modern shopping center, which has added several new restaurants in recent years. Some of you may recognize this center as the home of La Casa, the pizzeria owned by the family of Komi's Johnny Monis: Of particular note is that a large Cava Grill opened on the Eastern corner of the center a month ago: A note to the owners of Cava Grill and Cava Mezze: Whether you know it or not, you're in the middle of an identity crisis. It's difficult for Joe Average to distinguish between the two, and you'll be saving yourselves a lot of long-term pain if you suck it up and merge the brands, or more clearly delineate the brands, *now*, instead of waiting until you're nationally known, which is coming sooner than later. There's also a third pizza house going up within about a one-hundred-yard strip, which (according to the permits) is spending some pretty hefty dollars getting itself ready to compete with its next-door neighbor - Pie 360, a Baltimore operation opening three outlets in the DC area (here, Rockville, and DC). Pie 360 has a sister pizza chain, Coal Fire, also expanding to the DC area, and apparently using ovens actually fired by anthracite (however, Pie 360's picture in their link clearly shows a gas-fired oven). Folks, please feel free to post about either of these chains, and I'll start separate threads for them: Many of us remember when Burger 7 opened in Falls Church near Whole Foods - it really wasn't bad - then, a surprising second location in that dumpy little Chickpeas space on Lee Highway between Spout Run and Rosslyn, and the third location is here: That about does it for the places of culinary interest, but you'll also notice a Samurai Hibachi & Sushi Bar: If I'm going to mention Samurai, I should direct your attention back up to the first picture, of La Casa, and point out Hong Kong Express (when you go to allmenus.com for your link, that means you're desperate) - it serves chicken wings with mumbo sauce, and may (or may not) deliver. Finally, there's a Subway, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and a Papa John's, which I won't waste digital pictures on (plus, you'll be better off at Harris-Teeter's deli). And that's the way it is on this Monday, Jul 4, 2016.
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