CLOSING: Now and Then, Takoma Bistro, Shampoo

Now and Then store manager Elizabeth Brinkama takes a hug from a customer.

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.”

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Now and Then’s staff and owner: Brynna Scherloum, Elizabeth Brinkama and Jude Garrett. Photo by Bill Brown.

Retiring

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Merging

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.

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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.

Moving Out

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About the Author

Bill Brown
Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.

8 Comments on "CLOSING: Now and Then, Takoma Bistro, Shampoo"

  1. Patty Barden | December 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm |

    It’s interesting that the Bistro owners think the downfall was because ther were there “too early.” Based on my and my friends’ and acquaintances’ experiences at the Bistro, and Yelp ratings, the downfall was poor service, which seemed to be related to a lack of management and server training, and poor food supply ordering. We tried many times, even dragging along reluctant friends who had previous poor experiences there, and kept hoping for better and faster service and menu item availability, but it continued to be sketchy. Examples: ordering food only to be told when others at the table got their food that what you ordered was not available, waiting 10 or more minutes in an uncrowded room to get the waitress to take your order or bring the check when requested, watching a family of 5 with kids wait 40 minutes for burgers & fries–the list goes on. No one I know wanted anything to do with the place anymore.

  2. Randy Marks | January 1, 2015 at 9:03 am |

    Great article, Bill. You must have had to work hard and I’m guessing your emotions might have been a bit raw. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Randy. It was a scramble to get the story out in the middle of the holidays, but we felt it was important to get accurate information to the public. Rumors were flying on all the community listserves.

      It’s nearly impossible not to have emotional ties to news stories in a small city where one has resided for decades. Journalism should be objective, and that’s what we strive for. There is an advantage to being that close to stories. We often have deep knowledge of issues and people in local news. Drawing on that, we can put current news in perspective for our readers.

      Bill Brown, Managing Editor
      The Voice

  3. Sure, the Bistro could be unpredictable, but for me and many other musicians it became a must for morning and daytime meetings with clients and other musicians. Although I had a full breakfast, brunch, lunch and pastries there on many occasions, no one ever complained if all I ordered was my special latte and an ice water. Although the staff seemed like a revolving door of faces, I was always greeted with a smile and on occasion a hug from someone who knew me and what I wanted. A lot of my friends are going to be very disappointed to get this news. It sounds like I missed the boat but I am hoping to say goodbye to some of the folks on friday. Thanks to the Bistro for making my business even more fun! And please know, I have had some of the best conversations (and chocolate croissants) of my life there. I’ll continue to support the local businesses old and new but will definitely be missing my Bistro and my Bistro buddies!

  4. I can’t even tell you how much I will miss having Now and Then, a mainstay of Takoma
    Park. I remember when they first sold clothes on consignment. Jude always knew how to pick the right stuff to sell, she has exquisite taste. Hey Jude, Thank you! Ruthie

  5. Tina Waldvogel | January 12, 2015 at 3:43 pm |

    It is so sad to see Shampoo become another victim of the gentrification of Old Town Takoma Park. Sharon is my mother and owner of Shampoo. She has spent the last 37+ years of her life there and has always been a big supporter of local businesses as well as supporting the community and artists there. Shampoo has been my second home since childhood, it’s been the one constant thing in our lives. I have spent countless weekends and hours decorating the windows for the holidays and helping her there through the years. I really hope that Old Town continues to show their support to my mother, Maria and Ashley as they transition to Salon Jam across the street. John you have a heart of gold! Our family owes a lot to you, thank you for seeing my mother through this very difficult transition.

    • Ginny Bledsoe | January 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm |

      I was so sorry to see this happen. I have gone to Shampoo for years. Shampoo will be missed. They always gave great service and were very friendly. I intend to follow Sharon, Maria and Ashley to Salon Jam.

  6. There have been many rumors and speculation about the changes that are happening in Takoma Park, The reasons cited indicated that it was to get higher rents. This is far from the actual truth.

    Now & Then: Jude has been considering retiring for a number of years. For over 32 years she has invested in our community. Jude wanted our community to continue to have a great gift store and she made the effort to contact her friends at Tabletop to see if they would be interested in a second location. The owners of Tabletop, who where not looking for another space, felt that Jude’s offer was worth considering. Tai & Daphne, both local Takoma residents, decided that this was a great opportunity and Jude was excited that our community would continue to have a great, local, small business to keep her legacy ongoing.

    Shampoo: Sharon at Shampoo have been in business for over 34 years. She has tried to keep her business running with just three people. Operating costs have made it difficult to cover these rising costs, while keeping her prices very reasonable. Sharon, of course, will be staying in Takoma Park as she, Maria and Ashley will be moving in with John at Salon 2000,which is located just across the street. Sharon’s clients are happy that Sharon will continue to serve her clientele while not having the burden of trying to cover her overhead. Sharon’s rent has not increased in over 7 years. The new salon Scissors & Comb that will be coming to Shampoo will appeal to a totally different clientele, so hats off to Sharon who will be able to continue doing what she enjoys, without the overhead burden!

    Bread & Chocolate: ( Takoma Bistro) Ted and his wife Rene had decided to downsize their retail operations as they wanted to spend more time in Greece. Many of you know, Ted has a fabulous winery there and also wanted to spend more time with one of his daughters that currently runs his winery. Yes, his business has been up and down due to many changes of managers since opening, but the last 5 months his sales have been above average. He had finally found a manager that have begun to turn the business around, but his desire to spend more time in Greece took precedence.

    Takoma Park residents should rejoice in that our long time business friends are making moves that help them while new businesses are continuing to located in Takoma Park. All three of the new businesses are small business owners which has always made Takoma Park a very special place!

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