The Scene: Week of Aug. 25


Ron Lane works the oven at Blaze Pizza, which opened last week at Westfield Montgomery mall in Bethesda. Blaze is one of two California-based icons that are planting their flag in Montgomery County. (Jeffrey MacMillan/The Washington Post)
August 24, 2014
Cali in Montgomery: Blaze and ArcLight

Bethesda is the new testing ground for upscale West Coast chains.

Two California staples — Blaze Pizza and ArcLight Cinemas —showcased their new spaces at a luncheon last week hosted by Westfield Montgomery mall, which is undergoing a $90 million makeover.

Blaze uses the same made-from-scratch concept employed by District-based fast casual chainlet &Pizza. Blaze counts LeBron James and Maria Shriver among its investors.

ArcLight, which will open a 16-screen theater this fall, is known for its commercial-free movies and reserved seating.

The renovated mall’s food court will also feature the latest outpost of Mediterranean chain Cava Grill, American sushi restaurant Crave, Maine fast-casual restaurant LobsterME and MET Bethesda, a fine-dining restaurant from Massachusetts’s MET Restaurant Group.

Attendees took a hard-hat tour of ArcLight’s location, and then dined on Blaze Pizza.

— Amrita Jayakumar

Pedal pushers: Chefs workout for a cause

A number of area chefs traded in their aprons for workout gear last week to participate in a Soul Cycle charity ride to benefit D.C. Central Kitchen.

About 55 locals participated in the 45-minute ride, including Cathal Armstron, chef-owner of Restaurant Eve; Will Artly, executive chef at Pizzeria Orso; and Marjorie Meek-Bradley, executive chef at Ripple and Roofers Union.

Rock Harper, who appeared on — and won the third season of — the television show “Hell’s Kitchen” was also on hand, as was Winston Lord, co-founder of Internet start-up Venga.

Since it opened earlier this month, Soul Cycle’s first District location has hosted a number of charity rides benefitting local organizations. Proceeds from last week’s ride, which cost $50 a person, went to D.C. Central Kitchen, which provides nearly 5,000 meals per day to local homeless shelters and nonprofit organizations.

— Abha Bhattarai

Summit: Government thinking like business

Representatives from several federal agencies gathered in the District last week to discuss how information technology has helped them trim budgets, especially in the years following the recession.

District-based federal tech blog FedScoop held its sixth annual Lowering the Cost of Government with IT Summit at the Newseum last week, with keynotes and panel discussions featuring David Bennett, chief information officer of the Defense Information Systems Agency; Sonny Hashmi, chief information officer and chief technology officer at the General Services Administration; Avi Bender, chief technology officer at the Census Bureau; and John Delong, the National Security Agency’s director of compliance, among other federal leaders.

A few private sector representatives, such as Rob Potter, Symantec’s VIP of federal sales and Brett McMillen, general manager for federal health and science at Amazon Web Services, also spoke.

During a closing keynote, Hashmi described how the GSA is modeling many of its IT projects after tech-savvy companies in the private sector. “Most government agencies, including GSA, need to learn from this model,” he said.

Agencies should start thinking about making use of data sets in the same way companies such as real estate data company Zillow and business review site Yelp do, Hashmi said. “They have taken data available to all of us, and packaged it in a way that is of tremendous value to us.”

— Mohana Ravindranath

NoMa: Elevation begins pre-leasing

Another new apartment building is coming on the scene in NoMa.

Elevation, developed by MPR Realty and managed by Bozzuto Group, hits many of the popular new apartment trends. There are roomy common areas — a huge gym, a lounge clad in purple, roof deck with grills, game room with billiards and shuffleboard, floor-to-ceiling windows, and electronic fobs instead of keys.

Analysts will be watching how quickly Elevation leases up. The concern is that NoMa is one of the neighborhoods often cited as potentially having too many apartments. Moreover, Elevation is located at the intersection of two of the city’s busiest streets — Florida and New York avenues — and the 481-square-foot studios are listed at $1,853 in monthly rent. And yet down the street, even farther from the heart of NoMa, developers Edens and LCOR are planning their own new building.

— Jonathan O’Connell

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