Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keeping the Smalls in Business

Don't forget Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, November 30.

I couldn't include every single store, but here are some of my local small business favorites:

For fun trinkets, apparel, jewelry, gifts:

Fenton Street Market - Holiday Market 
Twitter hashtag: #ShopSilverSpring 

For ready-to-wear, designer and fashion apparel:

Erika Schrieber's online shop - designed and based out of Silver Spring

For an established tattoo and piercing shop since 1999:

Ambrotos Tattoo - 940 Bonifant

love the sign in their window

For great food, beer, wine and good people watching:

Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe - 8519 Fenton Street

For delicious Neopolitan style pizza:

Pacci's - 8113 Georgia Avenue

For homemade ice cream:

Moorenko's - 8030B Georgia Avenue

For custom sewing or sewing classes:

Think Outside the Store -  816 Thayer Avenue

Fenton Cafe - 8311 Fenton Street

For groceries, beer, wine (all at once!):

Snider's - 1936 Seminary Road

For one of the best selections of craft beer in the area:

Fenwick Beer & Wine - 1327 Fenwick Lane

For a delicious burger and old bay tater tots:

Quarry House Tavern - 8401 Georgia Avenue

For the only Saturday bottomless brunch in Downtown Silver Spring:

La Malinche - 8622 Colesville Road

For quick and honest car repair:

Murray's Auto Clinic - 999 Philadelphia Avenue

For a top notch meal with outstanding service and great bartenders:

Kitchen Bar - 8407 Ramsey Avenue

For good sushi with great service:

Sushi Jin Next Door


Ikko Sushi - 1215 East West Highway

Coming soon:

Third Space Wellness - Downtown Silver Spring

Not in Downtown Silver Spring but definitely worth a mention:

For some of the best empanadas in this area:

Kantutas - 
2462 Ennalls Ave (Wheaton)

For tasty gelato using fresh and creative ingredients:

Dolci Gelati Cafe - 7000 Carroll Avenue (Takoma Park)

For tasty ramen:

Ren's Ramen - 11403 Amherst Ave (Wheaton)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Efficient Travel Options in Downtown Silver Spring

A few reasons my husband and I selected the Downtown Silver Spring area a place to call home include the walkability factor, affordability (back in 2010 at least), being close to the metro, and living within a few miles of our nation's capital. We wanted to live in a walkable area where we wouldn't have to deal with parking drama for house guests or ourselves yet we could go without a car if need be. I know that at the time that sounded like a tall order for our Realtor Joe from Metro Homes Realty, but he pulled through and led us to this great neighborhood.

My bigge
st public transportation challenge so far has been the unreliable red line and it's ongoing issues. It's also a little pricey especially during peak hours. In the past few months I've been experimenting with different means of transportation to see what's the most feasible and efficient option (with the perk of exercise thrown in if possible) for different

ecently on a gorgeous Sunday, I had plans to meet friends for a bottomless brunch in Chinatown. Instead of riding my own bike due to the circumstances of free flowing mimosas, I decided to Capital Bikeshare down so I could Metro back. My other options were: zip car, bus, or cab to Chinatown.

Eight Bikeshare stations now in Downtown Silver Spring


Metro takes approximately 24 minutes (including approximate walk to the station). Cost is $2.70 off peak or $3.45 during peak hours. Depending on your proximity, you can get in some good walking and come closer to your daily quest of hitting 10,000 steps on the pedometer. However, since I needed to get to my destination with the certainty that I would make it on time, I immediately ruled out metro there because of the ongoing saga that the trains have no consistency on the weekends. I still decided to take a peek to see if by some stroke of chance this would be my lucky Sunday, but unfortunately, there was no sign of a red line train towards Shady Grove. 

Capital Bikeshare

Being that I now have a new Bikeshare station just two blocks from my place on Spring & Georgia, it was a gorgeous 58 degrees out and I hadn't been to the gym yet, that seemed like the right thing to do. I knew I had to plan for the time it would take and leave extra early since it would take me three times as long as if i took metro (when it's on time).

It took me about 50 minutes (with two quick stops for an ATM and water). Granted, I'm not an avid biker and I normally just use my own bike around DTSS to run errands, go to the grocery store, go out to dinner, etc. In fact, in the past ten years, the furthest I've ever been on a bike prior to my recent Bikeshare escapade was to Mark's Kitchen in Takoma (which by the way had really great food; that's for another blog post). So as you can deduce, someone who is a more experienced biker would probably make it in less time. Bikeshare cost a total of $9 ($7 for the 24 hour pass and then $2 for exceeding 30 minutes but not going over 60. Had I gone over the 60 minutes, I would've been charged a total of $13 ($7 for the 24 hour pass and then $6 for going over 60 minutes but not exceeding 90).

Most of the ride was downhill with three small up hills so it made for a relatively easy bike ride for someone of my elementary bike level. I also enjoyed a friendly Sunday morning DC, with many "good mornings" from locals sweeping or hanging outside which was nice. When I arrived to Chinatown, I quickly pulled up the Bikeshare app to find the closest dock to park. Luckily it had a few spaces left. 


Bus (#70) would take 68 minutes total time (includes walking .5 of a mile from where I live to catch the bus) but the cost would've been most feasible at $1.60 if I had that kind of time.


Uber would take about 30-40 minutes and would cost about $34-$43 (total including tip) to Chinatown, assuming the demand is low and there are many cars around. However, Uber can be a tricky option coming home from that area, because if there is an event (ie, H Street festival) and many people are looking for cars, Uber can cost as much as $75 to return to DTSS in some cases. The upside is you don't have to use cash or even have your credit card with you. Everything gets charged to your account and you hail your car with the touch of a button. There is also usually very little wait time.


Sun Cab fare would take about about 30-40 minutes and would cost about $20-$23 plus tip. The pick up is at your residence and if a car is available within ten minutes from when you call, they are reliable. You could also walk over to Kitchen Bar and scoop up a cab there as well for a similar price range but then you have to factor in the walk time to the cabs.


Zipcar would take about 45-60 minutes total including walking to the car location and the drive down. Assuming you've already paid the $25 one time application fee, it would cost $8.25/hour. The upside is that it's on your time frame and if you had friends with you, you could split it and it would be very cost effective. The downside is you have to drive around and look for a zip car spot to park it in.

I'm curious as to what Rapid Bus Transfer would cost and the time it would take or how far down Georgia it would even go.

Bike Lane Woes

My biggest issue with Bikeshare was not from Bikeshare itself, it was from the lack of bike lanes in Downtown Silver Spring and part of DC. It got a little worrisome at times because some cars had no awareness and I almost got steamrolled when a car decided to turn right on green and didn't think that there would be a biker that would be going straight in a makeshift bike lane to the right of him (which was also my mistake). So after that near catastrophe, I shifted to the sidewalk where I got a mean-mug from a group of people who wanted to enjoy their beautiful Sunday walking very slowly five deep across the sidewalk. And I can't blame them - why would I have had the need to be on the sidewalk if proper bike lanes were in place. So back onto the street I went. Once I reached Georgia and Q near Petsworth, bike lanes surfaced and I had no issues and the rest of my bike ride was a pleasurable experience.

 no bike lanes, but they really don't want you to turn on red

no bike lanes by Bonifant

sans bike lanes on Georgia in DTSS

The bikes themselves felt really durable and not too heavy. They have three gears, a bell, and handy storage space up front. Although my bike seat was a little high up, it was fine and didn't bother me at all. I'm not sure if or how you can adjust the seat if need be. Aside of the chronic bike lane issue, the only inconvenience to Bikeshare was that I had to carry my helmet to brunch and then back on the metro (#firstworldproblems). That's a minuscule worry and my choice for safety. 

So in conclusion, for my specific trip to Chinatown, Metro and Bikeshare were my best options for efficiency, green living, and cost effectiveness. Of course everyone's situation is different and it will change with destination, urgency, what the day brings with weather, the ongoing traffic situations, and depending on the time of day. Regardless, I'm really happy to have so many options here in Downtown Silver Spring. It's nice to not have to be so car dependent and have many choices within walking distance.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Denizens Brewing Co. Q&A: Local Brew Coming to DTSS

Out with the sandpit and in with the growlers; beer drinkers rejoice. There's a new local brewery-restaurant-bar-beer garden coming soon to 1115 East-West Highway.  Started up by local Downtown Silver Springers, this is just what the neighborhood has been thirsting for. Emily Bruno, co-owner of Denizens Brewing Co., tells us a more about their upcoming venture.

Can you explain your overall concept? It sounds like you'll be brewing your own beer in house?

Denizens Brewing Co. will bring the craft beer tradition, style and expertise to Silver Spring in an urban brewery setting. We will serve traditional European-style lagers, American-style ales, Belgian-inspired beers, and sour beers, and our customers will be able to drink beer right as it is produced and ask our staff questions about it. We’re also partnering with a restaurant to offer a full menu making Denizens a food destination in Silver Spring as well.

The location at 1115 East-West Highway is ideal - we will have a comfortable outdoor beer garden, seating for dining in the space upstairs, and a bar downstairs where the brewing takes place. Between having three spaces for drinking and dining and a diverse food and beer menu, we will have something for everyone in Silver Spring.

Do you own other restaurants in the DC Metro area? Why Downtown Silver Spring?

Denizens Brewing Co. is a start-up brewery, although our brewer has years of experience in the industry in the Pennsylvania and Colorado craft beer scenes. 

After years working as a head brewer, he is founding his own brewery in partnership with Silver Spring locals who are also residents of downtown Silver Spring. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for announcements of our brewer and restaurant partners over the next few weeks!

What type of food can we expect on the menu? 

Our menu is currently being developed and we plan to serve seasonal food that pairs well with our beer and also accommodates the different settings for drinking and dining. We plan to have full courses if customers want a meal and also serve smaller plates perfect for sharing.

Will you only carry your beer or have other beers available as well? 

Denizens will provide a top-notch alcohol menu for our customers. We will carry our beers, including our flagship beers that you will be able to find at other bars and restaurants throughout the region, as well as specialty beers that you will only be able to drink at our brewery. We will occasionally have guest taps open to breweries we like from across the country, but Denizens beer will be the main focus.

While we think everyone can find something they love among the many types of craft beer we will produce, we will also have a unique mix of wines and liquor available, with a particular focus on craft distilleries from our region and local wineries.

Will we be able to buy your beer "to go"?

Our customers will be able purchase and fill growlers at our bar. So you can have a taste of several styles, drink a pint with your friends, and then take a growler home for later.

Denizens Brewing Co. plans to unleash its doors summer 2014. You can follow them on Twitter @DenizensBrewing, on Facebook Denizens on Facebook or on Instagram denizensbrewing