CertifiKID, a Potomac-based website dedicated to promoting discounts for famillies, is expanding to offer deals to parents accross the country Credit: Twitter

Potomac-based family activity discount website expands

CertifiKID, a Potomac-based website that offers discounts for families on a budget, is expanding to offer deals to parents across the country.

The website allows users to search for activities such as camps, classes, vacations and parties. Users plug in their location and search for the closest deals within a 200-mile radius.

Founder and CEO Jamie Ratner launched the website in 2010 with her husband, Brian, according to a press release. Last April, the Ratners appeared on the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” where they accepted a $600,000 investment from “shark” Kevin O’Leary. O’Leary received a 19% equity stake as part of the deal.

Following the Ratners’ appearance on “Shark Tank,” they appeared on ABC’s talk show “The View.”

Brian Ratner said in the press release that since CertifiKID’s media exposure last year, the number of new users on the site has “grown exponentially.”


Bethesda woman launches airport assistance service

SkySquad, a service for travelers who need help navigating the steps at the airport, launched recently at Dulles International Airport in Reston, Va.

SkySquad was founded by Julie Melnick, a Bethesda resident who also works for a public relations firm that represents clients in the hospitality industry in the greater Washington, D.C., region.


Customers can go to the website theskysquad.com and enter their travel date and time, according to a press release from the company. A SkySquad assistant will meet them at the airport or car rental center. SkySquad assistant will help carry luggage, print tickets, navigate security and perform other tasks at the airport.

The service, which costs $39 per hour, is aimed at senior citizens and passengers traveling with small children. SkySquad assistants are fluent in English, Spanish, Russian, French, Chinese and Romanian.

The press release states that SkySquad will soon become available at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., with a target of early February.


California Tortilla investors hope to add Montgomery County locations

Two new franchise owners of the fast-casual Tex-Mex chain California Tortilla, which got its start in Bethesda nearly 25 years ago, hope to open eateries in Silver Spring and Clarksburg in the next two years.

Sayed Helal and Sudhir Bastola, the franchisees, said during a conference call this week that they hope to open a downtown Silver Spring location around late September or early October. They said they are targeting 2021 for adding the Clarksburg location.


California Tortilla was founded in Bethesda in 1995 by Pam Felix and Alan Cohen. Both have since retired. The chain has expanded to include six states and the District of Columbia. There are seven locations in Montgomery County.

Bastola said despite the presence of other Tex-Mex chains such as Chipotle, he thinks California Tortilla can succeed in the Montgomery County market.

“They’re local and they have more healthy choices. I think they also stand out because of the multiple sauces they have that distinguishes them from other local brands,” he said.


Nook expanding offerings in Bethesda Row next month

Nook, a children’s play space that opened as a pop up in Bethesda Row late last year, is holding a grand opening next Wednesday, according to its website.

Starting next week, Nook will offer open play, shopping, celebrations and other programming as its “full range of offerings.”


The shop, at 7025 Arlington Road, opened Nov. 29, with the goal of staying in the space for a year.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com