While Max Brenner Chocolate Bar opens its doors along Woodmont Avenue in downtown
Bethesda, popular restaurant and bar Ri Ra is preparing to close.
BETHESDA, Md. – On an overcast Wednesday morning, a group of co-workers sits under an umbrella outside Bethesda’s newest restaurant ready to dig into plates of chocolate — chocolate chunks pizza, strawberry hazelnut crepes, banana split waffles and, of course, a cup of hot chocolate.
While some customers are excited about the opening of Max Brenner Chocolate Bar on Woodmont Avenue, downtown Bethesda retail is doing a shuffle as a few businesses move in while another moves out.
In mid-September, restaurant and bar Ri Ra will move to Georgetown’s M Street. Georgetown offered a more economical option, the company confirms.
“The decision unfortunately came down to a business one, with lease renewal terms that were not favorable,” says Andrew Christie, mid-Atlantic group business director for the Ri Ra Group.
At the opening day of the Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, managers shared their confidence in their business’ staying power in a high-rent area. Global CEO of Max Brenner stores, Sam Borgese, says the decision to open in Bethesda had to do with the city’s growing reputation as a restaurant hub.
“Washington, D.C. is this new culinary center on the East Coast. It’s very competitive to New York, Philly and Boston. There’s a tremendous amount of resurgence of social network that I really think is incredible,” Borgese says of choosing Bethesda as its first U.S. chocolate bar location.
Across from Ri Ra, a new Spanish tapas restaurant Montaditos is under construction, plastered with posters advertising open positions.