Montgomery County’s Wheaton Redevelopment Advisory Committee (WRAC) will present its first annual Revitalization Award to a local business or commercial property owner who initiates and executes projects or programs that enhance the retail or commercial viability of the Wheaton urban core. The recipient will receive the award at the Wheaton-Kensington Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards Banquet on Wednesday, April 24 at Hollywood East Café in Wheaton.
The Revitalization Award will recognize improvements that convey positive change in Wheaton and encourage innovation and a high level of business professionalism by business and commercial property owners. Seven businesses/commercial property owners were nominated by the WRAC planning and visioning subcommittee based on criteria including innovation, success, environmental impact, community impact, area revitalization and greenness.
“These awards will reward and celebrate innovation, achievement and professionalism shown by local businesses,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “Recognizing businesses and commercial property owners in this way reminds all of us how important our efforts are, both in revitalization and economic development, to our community.”
The following businesses were nominated for this year’s revitalization award:
• Montgomery Art Association, 11160 Veirs Mill Rd. -- Recognizing an opportunity, the Montgomery Arts Association reached an agreement with Westfield Wheaton Mall to lease 1,100 feet of space to serve as an art gallery. Works by the association’s 100- plus member artists are featured on a rotating basis. The group was nominated for its positive impact on the business environment of the mall and on the community by making art work more visible and accessible.
• The Shops on Amherst, 11401-07 Amherst Ave. -- After inheriting the property from a family member two years ago, Chris Georgatsos decided that the Shops on Amherst needed a new look. He provided a new façade for the 52 year-old building that houses three popular Asian restaurants offering distinctive cuisines. The improved façade has broadened the appeal of the businesses and serves as an example to other commercial property owners in Wheaton that curb appeal and strong tenants help to ensure continued success.
• Good Time Ol' Fashion Service (GTOS) - 2401 University Blvd. -- Also known as Auto Serv, GTOS prides itself on customer service and dependable auto repair. In addition to servicing both foreign and domestic vehicles, GTOS has expanded its services to include bike repairs, a service that has been missing in the community since the close of Wheaton Sports and Cycle in 2009. This reflects business ownership’s awareness of the gradual growth of alternative modes of transportation by community members as well as an opportunity to further diversify the types of services offered.
• The Royal Mile Pub, 2407 Price Ave. -- After operating The Royal Mile Pub for over 20 years, the Morrison family sold the business in 2009. While new ownership continued to maintain the pub’s character, traditions and menu, the effects of a down economy proved too difficult to overcome. To the dismay of area patrons, the pub closed in late 2011. Then in 2012, Sunil Maximus, who operates the Montgomery Royal Cinemas at Westfield Mall, purchased and reopened the Royal Mile. While maintaining the pub’s focus on all things Scottish, Maximus has incorporated subtle improvements to broaden the pub’s appeal. If successful, the Royal Mile will remain one of Wheaton’s iconic businesses for many more years.
• Limerick Pub, 11301 Elkin St. -- After scouting a variety of locations in the DC metro area, Tom Stanton, a Kensington resident, settled on Wheaton as a great location for a traditional Irish Pub, offering home-style Irish food, beverages, entertainment and fun. For Stanton, Wheaton offered the prospect of a ground-floor opportunity, as the prospect of redevelopment was becoming more evident. Leveraging their private investment with neighborhood revitalization resources from the State, the Limerick Pub opened in March 2011 – just in time for St Patrick’s Day. The pub’s customer base continues to grow, with musical entertainment several nights a week, a dart league and literary nights.
• The Yarn Spot, 11406A Georgia Ave. -- Established approximately two years ago by Victoria Rothenberg and Marianne Casteel, the Yarn Spot is an addition to the eclectic businesses that call Wheaton home. The Yarn Spot markets itself as a full-service fiber store that supports knitting, crocheting, felting, spinning and weaving with a great selection of fibers and tools. A firm believer that knitting, spinning and weaving are community building activities, the Yarn Spot staff welcomes everyone and has not only a full roster of fiber classes, but offers lectures and projects that are important to customers.
• Ruan Thai, 11407 Amherst Ave. -- A regular in the “Washingtonian” magazine’s annual “Cheap Eats” as well as a favorite on Yelp and Urban Spoon, Ruan Thai has been offering authentic Thai dishes in Wheaton for 15 years. Capitalizing on its success, and in concert with façade improvements by its landlord, the restaurant doubled its size when neighboring space became available in 2011 and underwent an interior renovation. The result is a much improved aesthetic that complements the restaurant’s highly praised cuisine.
For more information about the awards, call Peter McGinnity in the Wheaton Redevelopment Office at 240-777-8126 .
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