So much for Zombie Safeway. Kids these days are much too young to remember the golden age when Wheaton’s Safeway was open for business:
The Way We Were
…but then it closed…
Don't Come Around Here No More
…but finally has found peace. Or at least is in pieces, which is all I ever really asked for…
Ashes to Ashes, Dirt to Dirt
…and someday we will have this:
Artist's Rendering: Do Not Try This At Home
Those of you holding your breath will have to hang on another week or so, but this is good news.
Save the date?
So I’m either a day early or a week late, depending on whether you count forward to the solstice or backward to my last post.
Aaaand we’re back. Wheaton hasn’t changed much in the past week; of particular note, the Zombie Safeway has now been vacant, in decay but undented by demolition equipment of any kind, for exactly 18 months. Meanwhile, the new Bethesda Safeway remodel is zipping right along. Surely Safeway, a Fortune 500 company, can rebuild more than one store at a time? Or, I suppose it is the developer’s fault. Or Wheaton’s. Bah and feh. I just want my easy quick grocery stop on the way home from the Metro like we used to have…
One change: Ruan Thai has a spiffy new red neon sign to go with the overall sprucing up of that Amherst Avenue stripmall, though it looks like they damaged some of the new yellow paint while installing the sign. The Gazette has a little writeup of the Ruan-Ren’s Ramen twofer. I wonder if the Brother Chinese folks are resentful of all the Ruan-Ren attention, or if they are getting enough tangential business to keep them quietly happy?
- More legislative news from Annapolis: in addition to the aforementioned HB 1175 that would allow us Maryland folk to have wine shipped to our homes direct from out-of-state wineries (but not from retailers or other third parties), a similar bill passed the Senate this week (SB 248). The bills are not quite identical but I’m sure there will be no trouble reconciling them and sending off to O’Malley for signature. Like the Dodgers of old, we will just have to wait ’til next year for a more expansive attempt at allowing third-party shipments. I don’t think these bills will hurt Maryland liquor distributors or retailers at all — I already buy my wine in DC or Virginia because the Maryland selection is so poor.
- Meanwhile, SB 994 would raise Maryland’s alcohol sales tax by three percent, gradually over the next three years. Okay by me; Matt Yglesias (among others) has made good concise arguments why. The bill has been approved by committee and awaits Senate action before heading Assemblyward. Senator Madaleno, who represents Wheaton et al., is among the co-sponsors.
- Just Up The Pike has another good long discussion of redevelopment in Wheaton.
- It’s tough to find a great butcher around here, but that may change soon, reports the Washingtonian Best Bites Blog. Helloooo Red Apron! And might I suggest Wheaton as one of your local salumi spots?
- Todd Kliman’s Washingtonian chat yesterday featured a long question about “feeling nervous about the health of various neighborhood joints” in the context of, among others, the effect the opening of Limerick Pub may have on the Royal Mile Pub. Like me, the commenter thinks Limerick has potential but isn’t RM quality yet. I’m confident they can both do well, if the food quality is strong. Kliman answered the question without further Wheaton content. He later recommended El Pollo Rico for Peruvian chicken, and another commenter is taking a multigenerational group to Nava Thai.
- In the Gazette, Bernice August reviews Rockville’s Joe’s Noodle House, still my preferred local Chinese haunt. More Gazette, on Silver Spring’s proliferating food trucks (Wheaton has several too), although Silver Spring, Singular beat them to it.
Whew. Enough? More than.
Wheaton Calling adds her two cents and Just Up The Pike gets at least a nickel’s worth. Lots of good analysis there. In particular, JUTP is right that it is unfair to call Silver Spring “generic” or “fake” (or insert your own such adjective), and I’ve been guilty of that myself at times. Red Lobster is just too easy a target. But it is true that despite a lot of chains in the one main core downtown SS block, there is lots of character (including some good, small, independent local restaurants) throughout the surrounding blocks. I hope Wheaton never gets a Red Lobster, and I hope we don’t end up with as many parking garages as SS has, and I hope our best small ethnic restaurants can survive (whether in Wheaton’s core or surrounding blocks), but other than that, we should be so lucky as to enjoy the kind of progress SS has made over the past twenty years.
CityPaper article is here; my previous post is here.
Washington CityPaper has a long article today — “Keep Wheaton Weird” — about Wheaton redevelopment and the effect on local small businesses, including restaurants. Their Young & Hungry section has a shorter follow-up. Both are well worth reading for anyone who cares about good eatin’ in Wheaton (the state of being, not the blog). In any redevelopment, there is bound to be disruption and not all existing businesses will survive. One could argue that Wheaton could stand to have fewer Salvadoran, or Latino in general, restaurants; we already just lost a longstanding Thai spot even though, as John Paul Jones might have said, we have not yet (mostly) begun to change. With any luck, lots of restaurants (and other locally-owned businesses too) will survive — the best ones should survive. I know some studies have debunked the idea that office space — and the cubicle drones within — has a positive effect on the local economy, but I still find it hard to believe that adding a thousand workers to Wheaton’s downtown core five days a week wouldn’t help a bunch of local restaurants’ bottom lines.
Will it be possible to stay “weird” (or “funky” as the article says later) and sustain our feral urbanism in the face of redev and change and growth and (cue scary music) gentrification? I don’t think Wheaton will be all that different in 2015, aside from a tall building or two. 2020? We’re still a 30+ minute commute from Gallery Place and I don’t think Metro will spring for bullet trains anytime soon, so it’s not like Wheaton will suddenly become the hottest destination in greater DC. But more people living, and I hope working, here in combination with landscape changes both substantial and cosmetic, should make downtown Wheaton a more vibrant place to live and/or spend time — without totally changing the “funky” mix of ethnic eateries, comic book and toy shops, frame stores, etc. I remain cautiously optimistic. And I’m glad local media is keeping an eye on things.
There needs to be a big party in the triangle when Zombie Safeway comes crashing down in a few months…
I did not attend last night’s meeting on the B.F. Saul redevelopment of Wheaton’s downtown (West of Georgia), but apparently Good Eatin’ was mentioned as one of many community groups giving input on the project. Woohoo! Not really our area of expertise, of course, but I am looking forward to redevelopment moving forward, smartly, carefully, cautiously optimistically (…L-Y). Wheaton Calling should have been listed, and she has a good writeup of the meeting. More good analysis from Just Up The Pike (who is an expert on this kind of thing) here.
Munching leftover Ruan — duck kaprow, beef mussamun curry, pork pad prik khing, all just as good as the first time through Friday night — and enjoying my bonus hour on this perfect sunny colorful-leaves-fluttering weekend morning.
Good details about the Wheaton Safeway project at DCmud. The design is the envy of District urban planners! Or at least some of those who write about such things.
Today’s Gazette has the update on the 17-story Safeway-and-apartment complex coming
soon eventually to the Zombie Safeway site across from Wheaton Metro. The story does not say when demolition of the Zombie Safeway will begin (too bad they missed Halloween weekend — maybe they were afraid the ZS would fight back?). I look forward to the day when I once again can make a quick stop on my way home from the Metro for a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.
- WaPo reports that the terrorists now advocate “crowded restaurant[s] in Washington, D.C.” as possible targets. Yikes! Not good. However, this just means we need to eat out even more; otherwise, the terrorists win. Mrs. Me and I and others sat defiantly in the front window table at Cristina on University in Wheaton for an early October, 2002 dinner, right after the D.C. snipers had killed their first victims in Wheaton, Kensington and Silver Spring. Be vigilant, but be rational, and be well-fed — how many times did your mother remind you that you can’t fight Al Qaeda on an empty stomach?
- Wheaton Patch details some futzing around the edges of the Safeway redevelopment plan. Groundbreaking in spring 2011? Sounds good, but believe when seen. Also from Patch, news of the possible Wheaton-area community garden noted last week at Wheaton Calling.
- As a follow-up to the spaghetti tacos story (noted here), NYT has collected amusing photos of other dishes kids like. Several are quite artistic.
- The Gazette reviews the Rockville outpost of Againn. We’ve been to the original DC Againn and thought it was okay (scotch lockers seem awfully pretentious). For Irish grub, libation and ambience, I’m much more excited about the Limerick Pub.
- CityPaper notes Rogue States is likely gone for good from Dupont, but will open a new location on 14th Street. Steptoe, the law firm that sued RS, has come off looking more reasonable over the course of the D.C. Superior Court case, and the landlord less so. Meanwhile, don’t cry for Dupont-area burger lovers — several beefy options remain, or are coming soon.