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Fast-casual rice bowl chain could be coming to Montgomery County

Aloha Poke Co., a national chain of fast-casual restaurants specializing in Asian-style bowls of rice, vegetables and protein, plans to expand to suburban Maryland, with the possibility of locations in Montgomery County.

The company announced last month that it signed a franchise agreement with restaurant industry executive Baryalay Razi, who plans to open three locations in suburban Maryland as part of an expansion by the chain.

Jessica Tcholakov, a spokeswoman with a Chicago public relations firm that provided a press release about Aloha’s expansion, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat this week that Razi was considering Rockville, Gaithersburg, Olney and Germantown as possible locations for the restaurants. It was not clear if Montgomery County could end up with more than one Aloha Poke.

Changes coming to Westfield Montgomery mall food scene

Fans of Bobby’s Burger Palace have less than a week to frequent the fast-casual hamburger eatery in Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery mall. The restaurant closes on Saturday, said Karla Saravia, a spokeswoman with the mall.


Saravia said Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, which announced its plans to move to the mall in December, will be taking over the space occupied by Bobby’s. She was not sure of the timing.

“We’re still working with their [Frank Pepe’s] team to figure out the details,” she said.

When a Frank Pepe representative confirmed in December that the chain was coming to Bethesda, she did not give a timetable.


Store Reporter previously reported that Bobby’s was closing.

Bobby’s Burger Palace was the brainchild of celebrity Chef Bobby Flay, who opened the Bethesda restaurant in October 2013. Although it is the only Montgomery County location, there are also eateries in Washington, D.C., and Woodbridge, Va.

Also coming to Westfield Montgomery mall this year will be Peking Duck, which will serve northern Chinese food. The mall’s website states that the restaurant will open this fall.


Saravia did not have additional details on Peking Duck, but said it will occupy the space that formerly housed Crave American Kitchen & Sushi Bar. Crave closed in April 2019.

Dan Schere can be reached at