Bethesda retail shuffles as chocolate bar opens

Customers line the window bar at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar in downtown Bethesda on Wednesday morning. Even the coffee drinks come with chocolate in them. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Chocolate syringes meet customers as they walk in the door, setting the tone of the excessive chocolate experience they can have. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
A slice of chocolate pizza complete with white chocolate that is serving as the cheese, says customer Karishma Martin. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Max Brenner Chocolate Bar store is located next to Jaleo in Bethesda. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Irish bar and restaurant Ri Ra is closing the doors of its Bethesda location in mid-September, according to Andrew Christie with the Ri Ra Group. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Brightly colored boxes of chocolates are for sale inside the new store along Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
One of the restaurant's signature items "Nuts" are pecans covered in caramel, chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Customers line the window bar at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar in downtown Bethesda on Wednesday morning. Even the coffee drinks come with chocolate in them. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
A look at part of the chocolate-laced menu at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar in downtown Bethesda. It is the first chocolate bar the company has opened in the U.S. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
The restaurant is bathed in warm caramel and chocolate colors with the slogan, "Chocolate is good for you," written on the wall. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Karishma Martin, Mutsa McFarlane and their co-workers enjoy their chocolate dishes outside the Max Brenner Chocolate Bar in downtown Bethesda on opening day, July 31, 2013. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty
Spanish tapas restaurant Montaditos is still under construction inside on Elm Street in Bethesda. Posters that cover the windows advertise new jobs coming to the area. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

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.

The Elm Street property is part of the Shoppes of Bethesda, managed by The Draiman Companies.

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.

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up