Bagels ‘n Grinds’ Secret: New York Water

Bagels n Grinds College Park Maryland

College Park’s newest bagel shop has a trick up its sleeve: New York water.

Bagels ‘n Grinds, which opened in the Hotel at the University of Maryland this weekend, has a special in-store water treatment system that cost $50,000.

The goal is to replicate New York City’s famously soft water, which has low concentrations of calcium and magnesium. Hard water can strengthen the gluten in dough, and it has often been blamed for the chewy bagels sold outside the Big Apple.

The treatment system makes three different types of ultra-purified water, which is also used in the restaurant’s coffee, iced tea and soda. You can even fill up your water bottle with New York City H2O.

It’s more than just the water. Owner Adam Greenberg told the Hyattsville Wire that the restaurant has a 10-step proprietary process for ensuring its bagels are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Apart from the bagels, soups and salads, and hot and cold sandwiches, the menu also features muffins and other baked goods made on site, espresso and cappuccino, and bialys and flagels on the weekend—think of it as a more authentic Panera.

The inside has a stone fireplace and free Wi-Fi, so if you’re looking for a nice place to get some work done, this may be your new hangout.

Greenberg also owns Potomac Pizza, which opened up a location at the hotel this weekend. The area chain serves New York-style pizza and will offer free late-night delivery.

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District Taco to Open in Riverdale Park This Fall

Photo courtesy of District Taco.

District Taco will open at Riverdale Park Station this fall.

A representative of the D.C.-based Mexican chain told the Hyattsville Wire they don’t have an exact opening date yet, but construction is “well underway” on its first restaurant in Maryland.

Owner Osiris Hoil personally scouted various options in Maryland last year, but he liked Riverdale Park because of the new Whole Foods and its proximity to the University of Maryland.

Hoil doesn’t just expect students to be regulars at the restaurant, but as an avid cyclist he has also sponsored the college’s cycling team for the past year.

“People aren’t shy about speaking up on locations they’d like to see us in,” spokeswoman Abby Campbell told the Hyattsville Wire. “We’ve had a lot of people pushing for us to be in that area for a while.”

The restaurant will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., with its popular breakfast tacos as another draw for commuters.

The Riverdale Park location will be the 11th for the chain, which is everywhere from Dupont Circle to Rosslyn. Another location is underway in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and the chain will then look for more in Maryland and around Philadelphia.

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A Sneak Peek of Old Maryland Grill’s Menu

Old Maryland Grill Mike Franklin College Park restaurant

Old Maryland Grill takes its name very seriously.

Mike Franklin’s soon-to-open restaurant at the Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park will feature a number of signature dishes from around Maryland.

The owner of Franklin’s Restaurant talked with the Hyattsville Wire recently about the two and a half years of research he spent building the menu.

Appetizers include coddies, deep-fried balls of codfish and potatoes served between two saltine crackers with mustard which were first sold by Jewish immigrants from pushcarts in Baltimore in the 1900s. (The saltines and mustard will be made in-house.)

Alongside deviled crab and an Amish cheese board on the starters menu is smoked beet kitfo, a variation of a popular Ethiopian dish that is a nod to the sizable immigrant population in Maryland.

The lunch menu includes St. Mary’s County Stuffed Ham, a classic dish from Southern Maryland whose origins are shrouded in mystery.

The restaurant will also serve 24 beers and 16 wines from around Maryland. Local spirits will be used in all crab cocktails.

The dishes are all served with a focus on authenticity. “Nobody wants a deconstructed crab cake,” Franklin said.

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Inside the New Home of College Park Academy

College Park Academy public charter school

College Park Academy’s new location feels like a cross between a school and a tech startup.

The public charter middle and high school, whose students are chosen by lottery, moved into a brand new building in the University of Maryland’s Discovery District research park over the summer.

The Hyattsville Wire recently took a tour of the new facility and learned that the whole school is built around the latest technology. Classrooms come with giant touch-screen virtual chalkboards. The cafeteria has high-resolution video projectors for assemblies. Even the PA system has programmable audio and text cues.

But the most notable differences from a typical school are architectural.

The entire school was designed around College Park Academy’s curriculum, which features a blend of in-person and online instruction using Connections Learning, a set of online courses developed by Pearson.

Students take core classes like math in traditional classrooms from teachers who use the Pearson curriculum and related services as a base. They then take self-directed elective courses in subjects such as art theory and journalism led by online teachers.

They complete that work on their own in an “independent learning center” with high-top group tables, private study carrels and individual rooms.

“What the kids love is they’re not waiting for other people,” Executive Director Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster told the Hyattsville Wire.

The goal is to create students who excel at self-directed study, work comfortably both online and in-person and can quickly master new material—the kind of workers that modern companies are looking for.

In spite of all the amenities, Ortiz-Brewster said students were most excited about the most old-school upgrade not available at the old campus at St. Mark’s Church: individual lockers.

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See Mockup of University Park’s New Playground

University Park playground images elementary Maryland

Courtesy of the Town of University Park.

Construction on University Park’s new nature-themed playground will begin this fall.

Located on the current site of the tennis courts behind University Park Elementary School, the highly anticipated playground will feature a play area for kids aged 2 to 5 and another for ages 5 to 12.

The image above, which does not include the fence, accessible paths and nearby trees, is the most up-to-date rendering of the future playground, though some colors will change on site.

Mayor Len Carey told the Hyattsville Wire that construction on the playground will begin in October and November, and fence and access ramps will be built later in the spring as the weather warms up. The playground is slated to open in late March or early April of 2018.

Through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the playground is largely funded by a a Community Parks and Playgrounds Grant

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The Perfect Lunch Spot: Art Walk

Riverdale Park has a fun outdoor lunch spot you may have missed.

Discovery District, the 150-acre research park run by the University of Maryland near the College Park Metro station, has an art installation, trails and outdoor seating.

Located on a roundabout on River Road, the Art Walk at Discovery District features several Mondrian-inspired colorful structures, hammocks, dozens of birdhouses and a green space that attracted a pair of deer and a flock of geese on a recent visit.

For the last two years, the area has also been a hotspot for food trucks, thanks to a special ordinance passed by Prince George’s County.

The Art Walk is at the epicenter of the research park, which is set to grow in importance in the next few years.

The College Park Academy, which currently serves students from sixth to 10th grade, recently moved into the new a 50,000-square building in the Discovery District.

Construction is also underway on an $18.5 million three-story office building overlooking the Art Walk, set to open in 2019. And just next to the roundabout will be a stop on the Purple Line, the 16-mile light rail line between New Carrollton and Bethesda, scheduled to begin running in 2022.

There are a handful of parking spots nearby and an mBike station, and the area is fairly accessible by bike.

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Meet Hyattsville’s Indie Rock Band, Blue Plains

Blue Plains Hyattsville indie rock band

Photo courtesy of Blue Plains.

An indie rock band from Hyattsville will play at Riverdale Park Station Thursday.

Blue Plains, whose sound has been compared to Radiohead, Mumford & Sons, and Wilco, will play a set at Bear Square near the Whole Foods Market from 6 to 7:45 p.m., as part of a fundraiser for the Food Recovery Network.

The band told the Hyattsville Wire that they wish they had more chances to play locally, though they have done a set at Vigilante Coffee and will be playing at the Hyattsville Arts & Ales Festival on September 23.

“Hyattsville needs a solid live music venue similar to IOTA in Northern Virginia or the Rock & Roll Hotel in D.C.,” said fiddle player Pete Daniels, who works as a producer at C-SPAN. “We did recently play at IOTA and were very pleased to see a lot of people from Hyattsville turn out.”

The band got its start when Lee Cain and Adam Ortiz, who both sing and play guitar, learned about their shared interest in music while chatting at a meeting of the Anacostia Watershed Society. Daniels later joined the two at their jams, and drummer Joe Hodgson and bass player Brandon Miller rounded out the group.

In May, Blue Plains recorded an EP on vintage analog tape equipment that was mastered by Smithsonian sound engineer and Grammy winner Pete Reiniger, who lives in Hyattsville’s Historic District.

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Maryland Breaks Ground on the Purple Line

Photo courtesy of

Maryland broke ground on the Purple Line Monday, 31 years after it was first proposed.

At a ceremonial event Monday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao signed a funding agreement for the 16-mile light rail line, which will run from New Carrollton to Bethesda, with stops in Riverdale Park, the M Square research park, the College Park Metro station, the University of Maryland and Langley Park, among other places.

The ceremony marked the latest reversal for the Purple Line, which has faced just about every setback a U.S. transit project can face: A wealthy suburb that sued to keep the line from passing through, a last-minute decision from a federal judge that delayed construction, the election of a governor who was skeptical of the project and the election of a president who was broadly skeptical of mass transit.

The project’s saving grace may have been the public-private partnership being used to build it, which was a selling point for Chao at the event, especially as the Trump Administration eyes similar partnerships as part of its own infrastructure plan.

“We do not have the money for every project that needs to be done in this country,” she said at the groundbreaking.

The Purple Line is not in the clear yet. A federal appeals court will still hear from opponents who hope to stop it, but the groundbreaking marked the moment the project was past its most serious hurdles.

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University of Maryland Named a Top 20 School

University of Maryland College Park Route 1

The University of Maryland scored in the top 20 of a national ranking of colleges.

Money magazine’s list looked at 27 different data points, from graduation rate to student debt, to compile the ranking. But this list added another feature: how well students fared in the workplace after attending.

Using data from LinkedIn on skills listed by alumni combined with research on the market value of those skills, Money determined how well students are doing. It also scored how many students moved from low-income backgrounds to upper-middle class jobs.

Based on that data, Money ranked the University of Maryland No. 20 on a list of 711 schools, just ahead of Columbia University. The college was also notably cheaper than most of the others in the top 20.

These college rankings have become a cottage industry in recent years, spurred by the success of the U.S. News ranking (which placed the University of Maryland at 60th), the Wall Street Journal (96th) and Washington Monthly (56th).

Given the different ways each ranking measures colleges, any individual score doesn’t mean a whole lot. But doing really well, especially if you’re not Harvard, Yale or Princeton, can mean students who would have never thought about coming take a closer look.

That’s good news for the University of Maryland—and good news for Route 1, which benefits from having a bustling campus in its midst.

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Why the Mall at Prince George’s Is Booming

Mall Prince George's Plaza shopping Hyattsville renovations

The American mall is in trouble, but the Mall at Prince George’s is not.

While analysts predict that about a third of U.S. malls will close in the next few years, Hyattsville’s shopping center is undergoing a $30 million renovation.

The mall, which opened in 1959, recently added tenants such as H&M and is also adding big name brands such as ULTA Beauty, Macy’s Backstage and Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Here are a few reasons why it’s escaping the fate of other malls:

Competition: Many of the malls that are in trouble face a newer competitor down the road. The nearest mall is Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, which has a much different market segment. Other malls in Wheaton and Bowie are a pretty far drive.

Anchor tenants: Many failing malls have lost an anchor tenant. But Prince George’s still has Macy’s, Target and J.C. Penney as main anchors, and Old Navy, T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress for Less and Marshall’s as secondary anchors.

Location: The most troubled malls are in suburban locations. But Hyattsville is not exactly suburban. The Mall at Prince George’s is across the street from a transit station and surrounded by apartments, including new high-end rentals, guaranteeing foot traffic.

The Mall at Prince George’s will need to continue innovating in order to face the threat posed by online shopping. Even with the renovations, it still hews pretty closely to the older model of giant parking lots, without the open-air plazas and promenades that some redesigned shopping centers now feature.

But for now, it’s booming.

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