Top Restaurant and Retail Stories of 2019

Top Restaurant and Retail Stories of 2019

New Rockville restaurants, award for Bethesda chef top the list

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It was a busy year for the culinary scene in Montgomery County in 2019. Restaurants came and went, and a prominent Bethesda chef received a high honor.

The most popular restaurant-related story according to Bethesda Beat web traffic was an announcement this summer that four new Asian restaurants would open in Rockville Town Square. Three of the four have opened since then.

Also among the most-viewed stories was the announcement from the Restaurant Association of Maryland, a trade association, that it had named Duck Duck Goose and George’s Chophouse owner and executive chef Ashish Alfred Maryland’s 2019 Chef of the Year. He was one of five nominees for the award.

And more recently, it was announced that The Riggsby, a popular Washington, D.C., restaurant from chef Michael Schlow, will open next year in the Woodmont Avenue space formerly occupied by Mike Isabella’s Greek restaurant Kapnos Kouzina, which closed at the end of 2018.

Here are the 15 most popular restaurant and retail-related stories from 2019, according to website traffic:

• Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns and operates Rockville Town Square, announced in early June that four new Asian restaurants would open in the downtown plaza. Since the announcement, Friendship BBQ has opened. The Asian dessert restaurants Kyoto Matcha and Cents Taro Family have also opened. Gyuzo Japanese BBQ is set to open in the spring, its owners say.

• Ashish Alfred, the owner and executive chef of Duck Duck Goose and George’s Chophouse in Bethesda, was named Maryland’s 2019 Chef of the Year in May by the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

• Federal Realty Investment Trust announced in March that Barnes & Noble would move from Montrose Crossing to Congressional Plaza on the other side of Rockville Pike next year. A representative from the bookstore says the move is likely to take place next summer.

• Last month, The Block, an Asian food hall in North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose retail development, opened.

• In January, the upscale pizza chain Matchbox announced it would be opening in downtown Bethesda at 7278 Woodmont Ave. The restaurant opened in early October.

• In September, the candy store Sugarfina and farm-to-table restaurant Modern Market closed after three years in Bethesda Row.

• The Chinese restaurant Wang Dynasty opened in May at 4929 Bethesda Ave. in the former Shanghai Village space.

• The gourmet hot dog chain Dog Haus announced in February that it would open in Gaithersburg’s Kentlands Market Square retail development. The restaurant expects to open in early 2020, a representative from the Bethesda location said this week.

• Sister restaurants Oakville Grille Wine Bar and Wildwood Italian Cuisine in Bethesda’s Wildwood shopping center closed in mid-February after the owner of both said the rent had become unaffordable.

• Mexican restaurant Casa Oaxaca opened in the spring at 4905 Fairmont Ave. in downtown Bethesda.

• Eerkin’s, a local chain of restaurants serving Uyghur cuisine, opened last month at 1701 Rockville Pike in the former Rolls ‘n Rice space.

• In March, fast-casual restaurant Fuse Taco opened at 4903 Cordell Ave. But it closed a few months later due to financial constraints, according to the owner.

• George Pagonis, a partner and executive chef at the Greek restaurant Kapnos Kouzina, said following the Bethesda restaurant’s closure in December 2018 that he wanted to reopen it. Instead, chef Michael Schlow will bring his popular D.C. restaurant The Riggsby to the space next year on Woodmont Avenue.

• The national burger chain Fuddruckers closed its Rockville restaurant in August. Later in the year, its Silver Spring restaurant also closed.

• The fast-casual burger chain Cheeburger Cheeburger will close by the end of December.

Dan Schere can be reached at

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