Credit: Courtesy Photo (HMSHost)

Comings & Goings

Two splashy concepts have been announced for Lot 31, the development at the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues in Bethesda. PassionFish, one of the flagship restaurants of the local Passion Food Hospitality Group, is dropping anchor sometime in 2015 with a 9,000-square-foot space and a spotlight on Maryland seafood. And, after 25 years in business, the creators behind the Silver Diner are rolling out Silver, an upscale, urban diner with a full bar and an abridged, slightly more expensive menu.  

The successful Neighborhood Restaurant Group, creators of Washington’s beer-centric Birch & Barley and ChurchKey, plus Red Apron and other restaurants, has settled on a beer garden and restaurant concept for Pike & Rose in Rockville, slated to open in mid-2015. Also coming to Federal Realty’s development on Rockville Pike is Pinstripes, a bocce, bowling and bistro venue scheduled for 2016.

Westfield Montgomery Mall’s new dining court, scheduled to open this summer, is taking shape with a host of new eateries. Among them: Blaze Pizza, a California-based fast-casual chain that offers a choice of 40 different meats, veggies, cheeses, sauces and other toppings; and Naples 45 Ristorante e Pizzeria, a Patina Restaurant Group eatery serving Neapolitan pizzas made in wood-burning ovens, plus Southern Italian specialties.

An Asian concept appears headed to the old California Tortilla space at 4862 Cordell Ave. in Bethesda. At press time, plans were being finalized to open the first franchise of Turntable, a Korean fried chicken restaurant out of New York City.

Noodles & Company, the national chain that serves internationally inspired noodle dishes, plans to open in part of the former RiRa space at 4931 Elm St. in Bethesda in October.

And corned beef is attempting a comeback in Woodmont Triangle: Heckman’s, a Jewish-style deli, opens this spring in the former Maggie’s space at 4914 Cordell Ave. Two previous delis in the area went kaput.


Meanwhile, Red Tomato Café, Bethesda’s first wood-burning oven pizzeria, closed in January after 20 years in business, due to structural damage caused by nearby construction.

Taking Off

Who knew? The world’s largest airport food and beverage company, with annual sales of $2.7 billion, is headquartered in an office park in Bethesda.  

HMSHost, at 6905 Rockledge Drive, doesn’t create food for airlines; it partners with other companies such as Starbucks, Harry’s Tap Room and Gordon Biersch to develop, construct and operate their restaurants in airports. The company has even created airport concepts with celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Rick Bayless and Todd English, and most recently, opened Ink.Sack at Los Angeles International Airport with Michael Voltaggio (brother of Bryan Voltaggio, the chef-owner of Range and Aggio in Friendship Heights).  


The company also has its own proprietary brands in airports, and additionally operates restaurants at 99 highway rest stops in North America. In a testing space the size of a home kitchen, HMSHost chefs develop and adapt recipes, focusing on dishes that can be prepared quickly for travelers catching flights.

To ease the challenges of running a food service establishment in an airport—such as leasing requirements, security and limitations on space and cooking equipment—HMSHost provides chefs, management and expertise.

HMSHost chefs work in the Bethesda company’s test kitchen to create dishes like these that can be prepared quickly for travelers catching flights.
HMSHost at a glance:

  • Airports served: 110 worldwide
  • Restaurants: more than 300 brands, 2,000 individual outlets
  • Restaurants at Reagan National, Dulles and BWI airports: 14
  • Employees at the Bethesda headquarters: 450
  • Employees worldwide: more than 30,000

Spice It Up

Silver Spring’s own celebrity chef, Carla Hall, co-host of ABC’s The Chew, released her second cookbook in April. Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes From Around the World (Atria Books, $29.99) takes familiar recipes and shows how they can be given an ethnic twist by simply altering seasonings. All-American burgers go Persian with cucumber yogurt sauce, lime and fragrant spices; or they get a Vietnamese vibe from pickled vegetables, scallions, ginger and cilantro. Chicken soup, stews and other dishes are similarly transformed. Hall’s first book, Cooking with Love: Comfort Foods That Hug You (Atria Books), came out in 2012; she is also co-author of a collection of The Chew cookbooks.

Coffee, anyone?

Independent coffee shops are hard to come by these days, so Kaldi’s Coffee is a welcome retreat. Owner Tsega Hailemariam’s shop, which opened last fall in Silver Spring, features a long roster of coffee drinks, a short sandwich menu, plus a taste-as-good-as-they-look array of homemade baked goods (try the bread pudding, macarons and marble pound cake). The atmosphere is earthy and serene, and chunky wooden tables provide lots of space for laptops and discussion. What’s more, the background music is just that.  918 Silver Spring Ave., Silver Spring, 1-800-607-1324,

Food Find: The Shortbread Effect

Rhonda Joseph’s life story would make an interesting movie. Raised in New Zealand, the 58-year-old North Bethesda resident traveled the world and worked as a private nurse, taking care of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, a countess living in a Scottish castle, and the former ruler of Dubai, among others.


After moving to the Washington area in 1986, she worked at a cardiology practice in Chevy Chase, became a stay-at-home mom and embarked on a career as a yoga instructor.

But throughout Joseph’s adventures, she always found making Nana Woodham’s shortbread a source of comfort. As a young girl in Christchurch, she would help her arthritic grandmother with the mixing, and as an adult, she would often make the cookies for friends, family and business associates.

In 1990, Joseph briefly sold the shortbread in the Washington, D.C., area, but she put the venture on hold while raising her two children. Now that her kids are grown, she has relaunched her business—calling it 3 Nanas (after her Nana, her mother and herself). Joseph hopes to cash in on what she calls “the shortbread effect”: Anyone who tries the silken, buttery cookies isn’t likely to forget them.


3 Nanas shortbread (original and chocolate) is available at Bradley Food & Beverage and the Chevy Chase Supermarket. A box of 16 cookies costs $8.49. Or, go to

Carole Sugarman is the magazine’s food editor. Send ideas to