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Peperonata Pasta, Pastaria in Gaithersburg's Kentlands Development - Pasta la Vista


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According to their answering machine, Peperonata Pasta in Gaitherburg's Kentlands neighborhood has closed its doors. During the 2.5 years they were in operation, Peperonata was one of the few sources in central MoCo for a good cannoli and really fresh pasta.

Perhaps it was due to their lack of marketing - I live less than 15 minutes away, and this is the first I've ever heard of the place.

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Perhaps it was due to their lack of marketing - I live less than 15 minutes away, and this is the first I've ever heard of the place.

Me too.

And yet, Buca di Beppo (a place I'm ashamed to admit was one of our favorites in college) lives on.

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Perhaps it was due to their lack of marketing - I live less than 15 minutes away, and this is the first I've ever heard of the place.

This is the first I've ever heard of it too - this is why we need active threads about the Mom n' Pops instead of just the Big Boyz.

Yeah, I know, I'm as guilty as anyone (but at least I can try to nudge people).

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Location, location, location...the designers of Kentlands gave it a mixed-use Main Street, then sabotaged its purpose by setting massive shopping centers one block away facing Kentlands Boulevard, the de facto main street. RPLC locals probably regularly passed within 100 yards of their back door, which faced the Whole Foods parking lot. There are other small restaurants on Main Street - Vasili's Mediterranean Grill (okay Greek, but nothing special), YoYoGi (another Chinese-run cheap sushi place...if "cheap sushi" is recognized as a distinct category), and "Steak 'n Soul" which I keep wondering about but haven't ventured into yet.

Close to where Pepperonata was located, at 12169 Darnestown Road, is the Italian Gourmet Market tucked away in a far corner behind Fuddruckers. They make their own mozzarella, have an extensive selection of wine, and sell gelato.

On Route 28 westbound, just before you get to 124/Quince Orchard Rd., in the old Rocky's Video building. I'd file it a bit below Vignola's for usefulness. The grocery selection is limited and skewed towards packaged convenience items, but the deli counter isn't bad...good mozzarella and cold-cut sandwiches. Good selection of unusual San Pellegrino flavors.

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This is the first I've ever heard of it too - this is why we need active threads about the Mom n' Pops instead of just the Big Boyz.

Yeah, I know, I'm as guilty as anyone (but at least I can try to nudge people).

It may be the mission of your virtual home to identify and spread the word about the hidden gems, but it is the responsibility of the business owner to find his target market, and make sure they are aware of the business.

Regardless of how much you or members of this board talked about this particular place, the owners of Peperonata failed to come up with a viable business plan that involved bringing in customers. We can lament the loss, but we share no responsibility in the demise, no matter how much or little we talked about it.

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It may be the mission of your virtual home to identify and spread the word about the hidden gems, but it is the responsibility of the business owner to find his target market, and make sure they are aware of the business.

Regardless of how much you or members of this board talked about this particular place, the owners of Peperonata failed to come up with a viable business plan that involved bringing in customers. We can lament the loss, but we share no responsibility in the demise, no matter how much or little we talked about it.

I respectfully disagree. When we spend our dollars, we are speaking about what kind of world we want to live in. When we buy a steak from Giant, we are saying its OK to have factory fed animals filled with antibiotics and hormones. When we shop at corporately owned stores or go to corporately owned restaurants, we are saying its better for give money to a corporation than to a mom and pop.

True that the owners of this store didn't seem to do a good job publicizing themselves. But the market in Washington DC metro doesn't necessarily seem to be oriented to small mom and pops. In San Francisco or New York, people spend enless hours talking about the latest mom and pop gourmet store and go out of their wat to support it.

In DC people seem to quibble endlessly about small independent owned businesses. They are no convienent. They are not open optimal hours. I'd ahve to go out of my way to go there. YEA! YES!! and YES!!! That is the point. That is why people go to Europe and rave about the expereince of going into a ittle bar for an espresso and a pastry, next door for some bread, down the street for meats and cheeses, on to another block for vegetables. People don't go to Europe to go to the Coop or the latest hypermarche. But we are hungry for the latest outpost of Wolfgang Puck inc to open in DC or for the Big Box stores to open in DC with taxpayer subsidy.

Off of my soapbox now.

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I don't think we're disagreeing, Dean. If the market for this kind of place doesn't exist in the DC area, then the guy had a bad business plan for opening the store in the first place.

But there are plenty of small shops like this in the DC area that do survive. Cheesetique does great business, and I heard about it outside of this board. And they're 45 minutes away from me! And I'm aware of various small shops, farmer's markets, etc. in the area. Some I heard about here or from friends, but others from advertising. If this shop's business was declining, they needed to figure out how to reach their audience.

The fact that the shop closed is (apparently) a shame. But if the owners had no plan for reaching and bringing in their audience, then screw him - it's not the market's fault, it's his fault. Maybe this guy sat back and waited for the crowds to come. You can't indict the Washington Metro area because this guy didn't know how to run his business.

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The fact that the shop closed is (apparently) a shame. But if the owners had no plan for reaching and bringing in their audience, then screw him - it's not the market's fault, it's his fault. Maybe this guy sat back and waited for the crowds to come. You can't indict the Washington Metro area because this guy didn't know how to run his business.

Build it and they will come is a great movie line, but by itself is a guarantee for business failure.

Too many great business ideas fail because no one knows about it. I had never heard of Peperonta Pasta and I too live ten minutes away and would love a shop like this.

I will go the extra mile to shop independents (anyone remember when five guys was an independent in VA only).

Fresh Pasta sounds really good for tonight, does anyone know of any other places in Montgomery County.

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New signs on the back and front doors of the old Peperonata space: coming soon, José's Mexican Café.

Also on Kentlands' Main Street, the previously mentioned Steak and Soul went under last winter, replaced by another family-owned resto called Colombian Breeze. If I correctly deciphered some of the Spanish on their menu (by looking for cognates...I ain't no polyglot), the Vanegas family has a thirty-some year history running a restaurant in Colombia, and this is their foray into the US. The menu reflects inexpensive homestyle café fare rather than fine dining, and covers a variety of Colombian standards - arepas, empanadas, chuletas (cutlets) - and the fried egg breakfasts are available all day. I tried the chuleta de cerdo, a butterflied pork chop pounded flat and seasoned before pan frying, served with patacon (smashed and fried green plantain), rice, and some lime wedges for squeezing. My fig and cheese dessert sounded better than it was, mainly because the figs were fully candied and cloyingly sweet. The cheese, while nothing much to look at, did hit the spot...about the texture of mozzarella with a bit of saltiness and a nice "squeak" against the teeth. Maybe I should have tried the luscious-looking torta nero de vino instead. Basic, hearty food, and an interesting alternative to hitting Vasili's across the street. Most appetizers around $5, mains around $12, additional sides around $2.

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This is the first I've ever heard of it too - this is why we need active threads about the Mom n' Pops instead of just the Big Boyz.

Yeah, I know, I'm as guilty as anyone (but at least I can try to nudge people).

Don--

I have read three-maybe-four-five-six notices this week alone (seven, if you count the misfortunately placed notice on DCVist regarding Yuca) of failed independent restaurants and have been biting my tongue--yes, it is possible, if only temporarily--as I have every time I hear about an independent failing.

[by the way, for those who don't know, when an independent restaurant fails it isn't so simple as doors closing and the proprietor moving on. He has typically signed a personal guarantee of at least $100,000, if not $250,000, which still must be satisfied with all bankruptcy protections and statute of limitations waived; has mortgaged or put up his soon-to-be-foreclosed house as collateral on a bank loan that will be called in on the most hostile and unforgiving terms no matter where he and his family have to go and live; and most likely has borrowed tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars from friends and family who were assured it was a sure thing and the ticket to everyone's future. Additionally, any capital improvements and fixtured or remaining equipment automatically and immediately becomes the property of the landlord the minute a single rent check is six days late or bounces, no court necessary. No one, not even the most passionate nihilist, not the deepest philosopher, has any conception of what nothing means unless he is a failed restaurateur. A restaurant doesn't fail. Whole families, futures, communities do so right along with it--only to be replaced by a Starbucks or Chipotle.]

And what I have refrained from shouting, until now, is this: There is nothing, NOTHING--abso-fucking-lutely fucking nothing about the DC insectual-incestual-insensical existence outside of your voice, this forum, and several other inter-connected voices, communities and forums(a) that in any way supports, enables or even envisions quality, personal, individual, independent, would-be community-based-if there-was-any-fucking-community-to-talk-about-outside-of-this-place-and-these-persons, dining experiences or establishments.

Who talks about saving local farmers? Fuck talking, who goes out there and fucking does it? Who talks about local markets, volunteering? Where can we feel proud about the work we do if not here? Who makes Cheesetique a local treasure for all to enjoy? Oohs and Ahs, Colorado Kitchen, Eve, Komi, Del Merei Grille, Corduroy?

Not the "PR Pimp-slapped, where's-my-publicity-money-ho?-Give-it-to-me-NOW" Reliable Source Gals.

Not the wanna-be "DC-but-just-for-me-and-those-like-me" deceivist hacks.

Not the let's-teach-suburban-housewives-how-to-bake-farm-raised-salmon-in-dill-and-then-complain-about-having-to-wait-on-hold-two-minutes-for-a-reservation-even-though-we-just-waited-twenty-fucking-minutes-in-line-to-pay-the-fucking-$3.20-toll-on-the-goddamn-Greenway-and-we-still-have-a-nother-fucking-forty-minutes-in-traffic-to-our-goddamn-subdivision-while-our-exhaust-and-lawn-fertilizer-completes-the-total-destruction-of-the-Bay Food Section journalistas.

I think the answer is: just you, Don, just you, and the community of caring and committed (or soon to be committed, once the court order goes through) people you have managed to draw around you and whom you have inspired to think, and act, and do, with the same truth and fearless passion that makes your community the one true thing that I have found in my time here.

So go once a week to the empty restaurant. Ask the owner/bartender/chef/busboy what he recommends, what's his specialty? Take the time to sit down and eat it there, alone in an otherwise empty restaurant, instead of taking it out, so that someone else might walk by and see you there and make a note to come back and give it a try because, hey--if this guy is sitting there then maybe it is that damn good.

Find out where his kids go to school and where they are on the honor roll even if they did only learn English in the third grade and how much of his family he had to leave behind in whatever god-forsaken and F-15 be-strafen (geblitzkriegenbushgestraffen) country he fled from, and how many of them he even knows if they are alive or not. Or who their grandparents were whose recipe you are eating and who marched on Selma and what was that like? and how their granddaughter in front of you is the last one to keep the memory and knowledge alive with a passion that even the water-hoses and dog-slobber can't wash away. Find out which dishwasher just sent $4000 (off of $1275 a month for the past 18 months) to a coyote in Mexico ten days ago but still hasn't heard from his 17 year old brother even though he was due in Houston four days ago and has no idea where he might be, probably dead or deported back, just to have the chance to wash dishes for $1075 a month until he gets a raise.

Who the fuck else it is that you think is cooking and cleaning for you? Some fat dude named GianCarlo with cash buried as thickly under the tiles of his Tuscan villa as the pile of bounced checks he has left behind him? Some GDS brat named Shayla?

Where the fuck else did any of us come from anyway?

And where ever it is that we did come from, why aren't we giving more of it back?

Why would anyone give their money to anyone but the independent?

And who else but you, Don, and the rest of you here, even get it?

--ML

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And who else but you, Don, and the rest of you here, even get it?

Has anyone ever seen so many hyphens?

My dad is the "pop" in the number one independent (mom and pop) audio-video retailer in the country - check it out, great stuff for Father's Day. He's been very fortunate - growing his small business from a no-name store to a nationally recognized (but still non-chain) establishment. I think he has a very unique perspective on what Michael was talking about, and I have a definite appreciation for the horrors that COULD have befallen my family if my dad didn't know what he was doing and didn't work his ass off to make sure he business succeeded.

I think that, to a very large degree, the success of any small business (restaurant or otherwise) is largely dependent on how hard the (im)proprietor is willing to work his said ass off and how committed he is to the quality of his product. A lot of idiots start businesses and get a lot of people involved and subsequently hurt when they're either too lazy or stupid (or both) to be successful. I'm talking about people who take money out of the business rather than putting it back in, or don't make the effort to get to know their earliest and therefore most important customers, or who take tons of vacation now that they have the "luxury" or being their own boss rather than putting in EXTRA time. I'm not saying anyone DESERVES to fail, but I AM saying that there are people you shouldn't feel sorry for. Feel sorry for their families and friends who believed in them and committed to them - not to mention their employees.

All that said, if I may quote Mencius - "a small country cannot contend with a great, the few cannot contend with many, the weak cannot contend with the strong." What's happening to the mom and pops in the area is not the product of idiotic moms and pops - it's the strong-arming. What happened to the adorable vintage 1950s hardware store in Clarendon? What the fuck is Ri Ra? Is that supposed to be Irish? It sounds like a retarded chinese donkey. And the Aegean Taverna run by the old greek lady who just missed the casting call for My Big Fat Ethnic Wedding? Gone. All the businesses displaced by the rejuvenation of Clarendon? Gone gone gone. They've been there so long that they can't ALL be idiots. Clearly there's some evil force at work here.

I'm not saying that chains and corporations = intrinsically bad. I'd be a hypocrite to say that I don't go to the Cheesecake Factory, or Don Pablo's, or Clyde's more often than I go to Palena, Guajillo, or Ray's.

For me, part of the problem is that my friends and I (and especially my fiancee, who is in charge of me) perceive the chains as cheaper than mom and pops when really they're not. Another part of my personal problem is that I can never tell if a restaurant is a chain or not (for ages I thought that Clyde's only had one location).

I think a special thread for mom and pops is a good idea. Anyone frequenting their favorite mom and pop should encourage the owners to check out DR and maybe get some buzz going.

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I just came along to this thread and despite all of the commentary, I wanted to say that this place was a good restaurant, the owners were nice and always present, and above all put out a good fresh product.  I used to eat here before I knew about this board.  They catered my wife's 30th birthday party.  We used to eat dinner and had lunch there.  It really is a shame that they didn't make it, mostly because they were truly nice people and the food was good.  Much has been written here about the Kentlands and the failure of the retail portion.  More modern developments have learned from the mistakes of the past.  The story of the Kentlands is probably some bad timing when it came time to build out the retail and Alfandre's vision wasn't completed.  There are family business that succeed in the Kentlands, not really sure why one place makes it and another doesn't, especially when you put out a good product. 

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