Whole Foods Begins to Take Shape

IMG_2503The developers bringing a Whole Foods to Riverdale Park are getting ready to start work on more commercial buildings next door.

Set to open later this year, the grocery store is taking shape. According to developers, another building will be started in the next month or two, while the necessary, if not glamorous, work continues on things like water lines and a railroad crossing.

Other retail buildings will be started within the next six months, as well as a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 1 and Van Buren Street, the main entrance to the development.

With a parking lot planned for just west of the Whole Foods building, customers should be able to easily get in to go food shopping even as construction continues on the rest of the development.

The opening of the Whole Foods will bring new attention to the area. As we saw with the Busboys and Poets in the Arts District, a landmark tenant can help build buzz even if the rest of the development is still months or years away from being finished.


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Classical Vigilante

Excelsa QuartetVigilante Coffee hasn’t just upgraded the quality of Hyattsville’s coffee — it’s also made it a little better for music.

On recent Fridays, the coffee shop and roastery in the historic downtown has hosted the Excelsa Quartet, a group of four University of Maryland students who are practicing for an upcoming music competition in Austria.

The classical music sets, which typically last from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., have proven popular with the hipsters and stay-at-home parents who frequent Vigilante on weekdays.

As a happy accident, the high ceilings of the former Model T dealership have great acoustics for live classical music.

The Hyattsville Wire loves this addition to the local entertainment scene and can’t wait to see what else Vigilante comes up with.

Editor’s Note: The Hyattsville Wire was on a brief hiatus, but we look forward to returning to a more regular publishing schedule.



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Hyattsville’s New BonChon Now Open

photoOver the weekend the Hyattsville Wire tried out the new BonChon Korean fried chicken restaurant at University Town Center, which had its grand opening last week.

While we didn’t have time to try their signature fried chicken dish (about a 30-minute wait), we did sample some of the other items on their menu and think it’s a worthy addition to Hyattsville’s growing food scene.

The interior is stylish and trendy with a full bar and TVs for watching the game. The menu has some dishes which are accessible to people who aren’t familiar with Korean cuisine, such as the chicken katsu, a Panko-breaded cutlet with a spicy sweet sauce, as well as french fries and coleslaw.

But there are also several  harder-to-find dishes for those who are such as Tteokbokki, a traditional rice and fish cake dish.

The major difference for people who have been to traditional Korean restaurants is that you don’t automatically get the typical side dishes like kimchi and daikon radish, although you can order them separately.

In a lot of ways, BonChon is less a traditional Korean eatery and more of a South Korean fried chicken restaurant.

Although BonChon doesn’t deliver, you can takeout and their signature chicken dish might be the perfect thing to order in advance so you don’t have to wait the average 30 minutes it takes to make it.

Hyattsville is BonChon’s fourth location in the D.C. Metro area joining Rockville, Md., and Arlington and Centreville, Va.

And for those of you who are curious, “BonChon” in Korean means “my hometown.”

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Vigilante’s Clever Sidewalk Advertising


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Cafe Azul Adds Outdoor Art


Cafe Azul added some outdoor art to its Arts District space.

The Venezuelan restaurant along Route 1 brought in Baltimore street artist Michael William Kirby to add three new paintings to its exterior.

Previously, the space had signs up advertising the Arts District.

Another piece by Kirby, called “Fashion,” was installed on the side of the old Professional Coffee Shop building just down the street last year.

Both works of art were done through the Hyattsville Community Development Corp.’s Biz-Art Match-Up program, which pairs local businesses with artists.

Kirby is a good pick, managing to straddle the difficult line between acceptable and edgy. The works have character but aren’t too far out there for public art.

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Home Improvement for Kids


Here’s an unlikely place to take your kids for fun: Home Depot.

But like other stores in the national chain, the Hyattsville Home Depot offers a free monthly program for kids to learn how to use tools while putting together a small project.

At a recent session, most of the kids were young girls, while the project was a birdhouse kit (pictured above) designed to look like the house from “The Wizard of Oz.”

The kids hammered small nails into pre-cut pieces of wood, then added stickers and paint, all under the direction of two younger helpers and a friendly staffer.

The program is offered on the first Saturday of each month. Kids get to keep an orange apron and the project that they made.

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The Hyattsville Saucer’s New Home

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No one knows exactly where the saucer will land, but it’ll have a home.

The funky saucer canopy at the Hyattsville Public Library has been spared and plans drawn up by an architectural firm for the county show it relocated and used as an accent feature on the new building.

The treatment of the Saucer has changed dramatically. A Space Age flourish that now mostly covers the occasional smoker at the aging library building, it was at one point planned to be torn down with the rest. The new plans refer to it as “iconic.”

That’s in part because of the creative Save Our Saucer campaign and Hyattsville residents speaking up. The community notes on a recent presentation from Grimm+Parker include comments like “saucer is an important architectural feature and a community icon” and “the spaceship draws kids to the library.”

Otherwise, the plans are not that dissimilar from the original, calling for lots of lighting, community space and modern approaches to energy conservation.

At the end of the day, the fight over the Saucer represents the best-case scenario for historic preservation: keeping a link to the past while also providing for the needs of the present. Other good local examples: Franklin’s brew pub, the Crossover Church in the old Armory and the Lustine Center.

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BonChon Hyattsville is Hiring

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The Hyattsville BonChon Chicken is getting closer to reality.

A flier posted on the door of the location next to Regal Cinemas at University Town Center said that the South Korean fried chicken restaurant is hiring servers, bartenders and order takers.

Although the interior has not showed any signs of change since Hank’s Tavern and Eats closed in April, the fact that the restaurant is hiring shows it won’t be long.

The Hyattsville location will join other BonChons in Woodbridge, Fairfax, Centreville, Herndon, Annandale and Arlington in Virginia and Rockville and Ellicott City in Maryland.

The flier includes this email for people interested in jobs: bonchonhyattsville@gmail.com.

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Life, the University of Maryland and Everything

Photo by Flickr user carmichaellibrary http://bit.ly/1ravjE8

Photo by Flickr user carmichaellibrary http://bit.ly/1ravjE8

The University of Maryland is home to one of the higher education’s most powerful supercomputers — and one of its nerdiest jokes.

According to the Washington Post, the university’s supercomputer, deepthought2, was named the 14th most powerful one owned by an American college:

Deepthought2 is an array of computing equipment able to process 300 trillion operations every second, making it — in computer-speak — a 300 teraflop machine. That capacity is the equivalent of about 10,000 laptops working in concert, university officials said.

The supercomputer’s name comes from Deep Thought, a fictional computer in Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series which was designed to find the answer to “life, the universe and everything.”

The answer, for those who haven’t heard, is the number 42.

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The Saucer is Saved, But Not the Library


It looks like the saucer will be saved, but the library behind it will not be.

According to an article in the Gazette, the architects in charge of designing a new public library in Hyattsville will keep the iconic entryway. But, to the disappointment of some local activists, they still intend to tear down the aged building it’s attached to:

“We heard loud and clear that the saucer is important to the community as both an architectural feature and as a community icon that people have grown up with,” said Melanie Hennigan, president of Grimm + Parker, the Calverton-based architectural firm hired by the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System to design a new Hyattsville branch library.

All three options presented by Grimm + Parker at a community meeting kept the saucer, either as an entryway or else as part of a mini-park on site.

The architects also plan to do a “feasibility study” of renovating the existing building, but given the problems of meeting modern standards for access for the disabled and more natural lighting, this is likely just so much window dressing so that local politicians will seem responsive to the community.

The Hyattsville Wire has said all along this would be the best outcome — respecting the city’s past and keeping it funky while also putting the needs of library patrons first.

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