Thursday, December 9, 2010

Washington City Paper article on Wheaton Redevelopment

I was surprised to see an article on Washington City Paper's website today about the Wheaton Redevelopment project being headed up by B.F. Saul.  I wouldn't say there was any earth-shattering revelations in it, but I was disappointed to read that there really aren't any provisions to support existing small businesses in our neighborhood once the redevelopment is under way.  While I understand that a private developer isn't obligated to provide assistance to existing small businesses affected by their project, I am disappointed that the county has not assumed more of a leadership role in this.

So, what's up, Montgomery County?  Where's your leadership in this project?  A major part of the feedback during the community meeting the other week was directly related to maintaining the small business community that makes Wheaton unique.  How are any of those concerns going to be addressed if B.F. Saul doesn't plan on doing anything about it?  The county needs to step up now and make sure a framework is in place for maintaining the uniqueness of our neighborhood amidst the redevelopment process.  Don't get me wrong, the development is Silver Spring is a success in many ways.  But other than the restoration of the AFI, the rest of the redeveloped area of Silver Spring along Ellsworth (edited 12-14-10) is a pretty generic place that could have been plopped down in just about any town in America.  I think Wheaton will be worse in the long run if we lose the unique businesses that define our community.

Oh, and I was offended about article writer's  jab about restaurants here needing to hire English speaking waiters to attempt to lure 'gringos' into their businesses.  I have eaten at many ethnic restaurants in Wheaton and have never had the slightest problem communicating with the waiters in English.  Also, while I know that Wheaton has its share of crime, I've never heard about the prostitution rings that the writer claims some restaurants are using to boost their income. Geez.

I will also put a plug in for Sergio's, which was featured pretty prominently in the article.  They're serving my favorite hispanic food in Wheaton right now, and I have been surprised at how empty it always seems to be.  Check it out sometime!


  1. Thanks, I think your post on this is better than mine. Keeping Wheaton unique (better than "weird", I think, though I do like "feral")is going to be tough, but keeping it all in the news and in forefront of residents' minds is key. Excellent point about the waiters, that was a dumb part of the article. The restaurant that used to be in the Umberto's space, The Pearl I think, got busted for a variety of things and prostitution may have been one, I assume that's what the article meant. But of course it's not widespread -- sloppy writing, CityPaper!

    I love Sergio's involvement in the community, and I wish I liked their food better. I prefer Antipuqueno (for pupusas) or Irene's III/Chicken Place/Cabanita/the taco trucks. But to each his or her own!

  2. Hi there,

    This is Lydia, the author of the piece. I just want to note that the people who spoke about a need for ethnic restaurants to communicate in English and take other steps to market beyond their own communities were Pete McGinnity, Janet Yu, and Manny Hidalgo--it wasn't only my opinion.

    All best,


  3. Hey, Eatin'...I'll definitely have to add Antipuqeno to my list as well as Chicken Place and the taco trucks. Just to give a little more detail, the dishes I've liked at Sergio's have had their mole sauce in them, but I was also pretty happy with the pupusas.

    And Lydia, I appreciate your response on where you heard about the communication issues in the restaurants here in Wheaton. Still, I probably lean more towards the 'ethnic' hole-in-the-wall places more than most people, and I've been able to communicate in English without any problems.

    I was also thinking, after I posted this article, that I really should remind Wheaton residents that if they want to maintain the diversity of businesses that we have here, then you really need to make an effort to get out and patronize them as much as possible!