Great guest post at Just Up The Pike today by Dave from Imagine DC, reminiscing about his formative years on the not-as-mean-as-some-people-think streets of Wheaton. Phantasmagoria Records went away just as we arrived here, too bad, would love to have a cool record store in Wheaton, but the days of cool record stores are growing numbered everywhere. Another of his haunts, Legends Pool Hall (11317 Elkin) is still rocking, mostly Latino clientele these days, probably the same felt on the not-100%-level tables, and although I have not tried the food, I have seen and smelled it: they appear to have a variety of fried things including some particularly attractive onion rings that will be mine next time I’m there.
Anyway, Dave’s point is that Wheaton still (though not as much as in Dave’s Wheaton days) has many independent stores and hasn’t yet gentrified, much. I think our wonderful mix of family-run restaurants are the best example of that, but we still also have Chuck Levin’s (where I bought the guitar I never play) and Barbarian Comics (where they have lots of cool stuff but are seriously lacking in Groo the Wanderer back issues), for example. But Barry’s Magic Shop and Phantasmagoria are gone (Barry’s relocated to 5544 Nicholson Lane in Rockville), to name two prominent departed independents, and 14-story mixed use development is coming…read his whole post, but the best paragraph is the last one:
“But Wheaton still has a bit of that feral urbanism, set of raw streets with not-so-mainstream shops and businesses that feel a little off the beaten path despite the fact that they’re right in the middle of everything, versus the tame, boring set of chains in strip malls that litter much of the suburbs. As wave after wave of investment pours into the choice real estate around Wheaton Metro, I can only hope that the edgy underground Wheaton I grew up with can survive and thrive.”