BY BILL BROWN
Three Takoma Old Town businesses are closing: Now and Then, Shampoo, and Takoma Bistro.
New, similar enterprises are poised to replace them: Tabletop, selling home accessories, gifts, and jewelry; Scissor & Comb, a high-end hair salon; and an as-yet-unidentified restaurant.
UPDATE: Moving into the former Takoma Bistro is Kin Da Thai and Sushi Restaurant. According to an Old Takoma Business Association announcement, “This will be the second location for experienced restaurateur, Somjet Prompharsit and partner, Chanpen Teeranon. The team’s original location, Aroi Thai, in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of DC has been a popular part of the community for the past two years. The restaurant will have approximately 60 seats and a beer and wine bar. Additionally, Kin Da will offer catering, delivery and carry-out options to its customers. Opening February 2014.”
Both Now and Then and Shampoo have been in business in Takoma Park for more than 30 years and are owned by local residents. Takoma Bistro, one of five Bread & Chocolate cafés, is about two-and-a-half years old, owned by a couple living nearby.
Changes will happen quickly. Yesterday was Takoma Bistro’s last day. Now and Then’s lease ends in mid-January, but the shop will close once the merchandise and display equipment is sold.
Shampoo’s owner and staff will transition across the street to Salon Jam in February. A new salon will move in to Shampoo’s space.
City councilmember Seth Grimes said, “It has been wonderful having Now and Then and Shampoo in the community for so long—for longer than I’ve lived here myself. I was a frequent patron at Takoma Bistro and have appreciated having them here as well. Turn over isn’t unusual of course, but we’ll definitely miss those stores even as we welcome new businesses to Takoma Park.”
Now and Then’s staff and owner: Brynna Scherloum, Elizabeth Brinkama and Jude Garrett. Photo by Bill Brown.
Jude Garrett, owner of Now and Then, conducted the store’s close-out sale last weekend. She was overwhelmed by the community’s reaction.
“Unbelievable,” she said on Sunday, Dec. 28, “because, you know, the announcement just went out the day after Christmas. It’s just been an outpouring of support and love and people crying—and they always come in and say, ‘I’m so sorry … but I’m so happy for you.’”
“After 32 years in business, dozens of amazing employees, three generations of customers, and providing countless gifts for others to enjoy, I have decided to give myself the gift of retirement!” Garrett wrote in her Dec. 24 announcement. “My decision to close the store is bittersweet. After a great deal of thought and consultation, I realized it was time to finish this chapter of my life and move on to the next.”
Jude Garrett, Now and Then owner, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. Photo by Bill Brown.
It took all three staff members—Garrett, Elizabeth Brinkama, the store’s manager for eight years; and Brynna Scherloum, an employee for the past five years—to work the cash register and absorb the emotional waves as familiar customers and friends flowed into the store for one last buy.
Now and Then opened on April Fools Day, 1983, one of the new stores that sparked Old Takoma’s retail renaissance. At that time the commercial area a mix of retail and wholesale businesses. It was not a big shopping destination. Now and Then’s selection of crafts, jewelry, clothing, toys, and hip novelty items attracted a new generation of young parents then moving into Takoma Park. It continued to attract young parents and their children through three decades. Some of those original young parents are now buying gifts for their grandchildren.
Now and Then, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. Photo by Bill Brown.
“A lot of people have said, ‘Oh, I was born that year!'” noted Garrett. Danny Wells, co-owner of the popular new restaurant Republic was one of them, she related in mock horror. The original Now and Then storefront is now occupied by Republic.
Garrett reminisced about how she celebrated ten years in business: “I remember running an ad on our 10th anniversary in The Voice; ‘Now and Then is closing,’ and then on the next page, ran an ad that said, ‘APRIL FOOLS!’”
“People were freaking out!” she said. They are again, but this time it’s no joke.
Even Now and Then’s display cases, shelves and mannikins are on sale. Photo by Bill Brown.
Garrett was interrupted by a customer telling her how much she appreciated Now and Then. Citing perfect gifts, some of them last-minute purchases; all the children who got them; and examples of community support provided by Garrett, the customer said “I don’t know what we’d do without you,” and threw her arms around Garrett.
Wiping a tear away, Garrett said, “I’ve been getting a lot of that.”
Garrett was enthusiastic about Tabletop, the retail business due to take over Now and Then’s 6927 Laurel Ave. space.
Owned by Takoma Park residents, Tabletop already has a storefront in Dupont Circle.
Now and Then’s staff: Brynna Scherloum, Store Manager Elizabeth Brinkama and owner Jude Garrett. Photo by Bill Brown.
“There’s a lot of history with us,” says Garrett. One of the three owners used to work at Now and Then, another was a childhood friend of Garrett’s children. She also sold her jewelry at Amano, another retail store in Old Takoma.
She’s not sure what she’ll do in retirement. “I’m sort of overwhelmed right now,” she said.
However, Garrett’s a city resident so … “I’ll still be in the neighborhood.”
Shampoo is one of the oldest Old Town businesses, predating the 1980s retail renaissance. The hair salon is at the corner of Carroll and Westmoreland Aves., well known for its holiday window displays, many of them celebrating city history.
Owner Sharon Waldvogel will close up shop later this winter. However, according to an Old Takoma Business Association press release, “Sharon and the Shampoo staff will continue to work in the community and join the team at Salon Jam at 7054 Carroll Ave., Takoma Park.” The move is expected in February 2015.
Shampoo, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. Photo by Bill Brown.
The press release adds that “Scissor & Comb, a high end salon created by salon visionary Ian Palmiero, will be opening at 7009 Carroll Ave., Takoma Park, Md., in the space currently occupied by Shampoo salon. Specializing in the cutting, coloring, and styling of hair, Scissor & Comb’s focus will be on delivering a personalized luxury service in a setting that reflects the unique and unpretentious character of the Takoma neighborhood.
The space occupied by Takoma Bistro was once the Everyday Gourmet bakery and café, which opened around the same time as Now and Then. The bakery changed hands at least three times, and was eventually converted into a bar. Then, signaling Old Takoma’s new upscale phase, Bread & Chocolate leased the space and created Takoma Bistro in 2012.
Takoma Bistro, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. Photo by Bill Brown.
“We dared venturing something new” with the Bistro, said Bread & Chocolate owners Theodore and Rema Manousakis. Their other establishments are cafés focused on lunch and brunch business. Unlike those restaurants, the Bistro was built around dinner business.
“It was not as well received as our regular concept [anticipated],” said Theodore Manousakis. “So, unfortunately, it did not work for us as well as we had hoped.”
Theodore’s wife, Rema, said the dinner menus were more expensive, requiring additional products. Though they had business during the day, and even though business picked up this year, the lunch and the brunch crowd just couldn’t sustain the rest of the expense.
Bread & Chocolate owners Theodore and Rema Manousakis. Photo by Bill Brown.
As they sat at a corner table on the last day of business, the Manousakises said they were sad to close the Bistro. “We really appreciated all the support that we got from the community.” said Rema. “We really came in with a bang—everybody was in here, very supportive and everything.”
She was especially sorry to leave, she said, because she’d grown up nearby, “800 years ago,” she joked. She attended the Nativity School on Peabody St.—now a DC public charter school—along with John Urciolo, the Bistro’s landlord.
The Manousakises had nothing but praise and thanks for the Takoma Park community. They also prophesied economic and consumer hope. They saw improvement in their business over the last year, but not enough to save the Bistro, unfortunately.
Takoma Bistro, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. Photo by Bill Brown.
“I think it’s really set to blossom. Perhaps we came in a little early.” said Theodore.
“Bus Boys and Poets will be tremendous for the area, and a few other businesses that may be coming in that I heard about,” he said.
The Manousakises would not name the next occupant of 6923 Laurel Ave., but they dropped hints.
“I think the community is going to be very excited.” said Theodore. “As sad as we are to leave, I think they will be very well received.”
Rema said of the new restaurant: “They are great people, service oriented.”
“Family owned!” interjected Theodore.
“It’s going to be wonderful. We’re going to come back and eat here,” said Rema.