New Rockville Panic Room Opens on Nebel Street

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rockville Panic Room recently opened at 12009 Nebel Street. Andrew Ma, owner and Montgomery county native, sat down with Pike District to explain what a panic room is and why he brought one to Pike District.

Andrew Ma gets quizzical looks whenever he wears his company’s apparel in public. “When you wear a shirt that says ‘Texas Panic Room,’ it always brings up a discussion,” Ma jokes.

If you have never heard of a panic room, or escape room as they are commonly called, you are not alone. The interactive game, which started in Japan 15 years ago and quickly swept through Europe, has only recently gained popularity in the U.S.

So, what exactly is an escape room?

Escape rooms are a new form of themed entertainment where players are trapped in a room and have 60 minutes to solve a series of puzzles to get out. Each room has a different theme, like a log cabin, a classroom or a dungeon. 

The concept sounds a little strange until you try it. Even Ma, who opened Rockville Panic Room in March, was initially skeptical.  “At first when I heard about [the escape room concept] it sounded kind of silly,” Ma concedes. “You lock people in a room for an hour and I am going to pay for that? You should be paying me.”

But Ma, who is an equity analyst, quickly changed his tune when he looked at the financials. “After I saw the numbers on it I was like ‘wow’ there’s something here.” Ma became a silent investor in Texas Panic Room, an escape room chain with six locations throughout Texas, and when the company looked to expand to the East Coast, Ma, a Montgomery County native, jumped at the opportunity. 

He thought the Bethesda/Rockville area had similar demographics to Austin, Texas, home of the company’s most successful escape room and believes his Rockville location could eventually be even more popular.

After scouring potential spaces in the area, he quickly concluded that Pike District was the perfect fit. “Coming from a finance and accounting background, the bottom line is very important,” Ma explained. The Nebel Street location checked all the boxes on his wish list: central location, plentiful parking, metro accessibility, and reasonable rent.

Once he had the location, it was time to design the escape rooms. As Ma gives a tour of the various rooms – some finished, some still under construction – you can tell he enjoys his job: “I like getting involved in this because the concept is fun.”

Ma shows off a “prison escape” game that is under construction, complete with jail cells, a warden’s office and even an authentic prison toilet shipped from Texas. As we enter a storage room, he points to a large coffin sitting in the corner that will eventually be part of a zombie-themed room.

Right now, there are two escape rooms open to the public – Cabin Fever and Escape Detention. The Pike District location has the capacity for up to five rooms and the plan is to introduce a new game every six months. 

[Andrew Ma, Chief Escape Officer, plays chess with Russell Allen, one of the game designers, in the cabin-themed escape room.]

Escape Detention, which is the easiest of the two, looks like a sixth-grade science class with grade-school desks, lockers, and a table full of beakers. Just because it’s the easiest, does not mean you will definitely escape. Every group moves at its own pace. Case in point, a group of 11-year olds recently escaped the classroom with 56 seconds remaining while a group of adults on a corporate retreat could not beat the deadline.

The harder option, Cabin Fever, challenges groups to escape a secluded ski resort in the wake of an on-coming blizzard. We cannot give away too many details but can attest that it feels like you just checked into a ski lodge when you walk through the door.

And it’s not just the rooms that are decorated. The staff ordered outfits to go along with each theme, like a sheriff’s shirt with fake Billy clubs and mountain ranger jerseys, backpacks, and Mountie hats. “We try to get into the role of things,” Ma said. “You are supposed to feel that immersiveness in a game. We like that part. I think the clients like it.”

They even have graduation caps and pin-wheel hats for group photos after Escape Detention. The hat you get depends on whether you escape or not.

Rockville Panic Room is also developing a kid-friendly arcade-themed room and has additional space for birthday parties, as well as a conference room for corporate outings. Ma expects almost one third of clients will be corporate retreats and team-building exercises during the week.

Rockville Panic Room is by appointment only and must be booked at least three hours in advance. You can reserve a room online at

County Executive Announces New Bike Lanes in Pike District

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

By Maureen Chowdhury, Montgomery Community Media

The Pike District now has one-half mile of separated bike lanes located on both sides of Nebel Street between Randolph Road and Marinelli Road in Rockville.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett along with local officials announced the completion of the bike lanes today at a ribbon cutting event.

“The Pike District is in the process of transforming itself into a walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented community and the completion of the Nebel Street protected bike lane is one more step towards this goal,” Leggett said. “Creating a smart-growth community in the Pike District means more economic opportunities, more jobs and a better environment. It means making Montgomery County more competitive and brings greater prosperity and a stronger sense of community to this area,” he said.

According to a news release, the bike lanes are one-way,  six-feet-wide and are located against the curb on either side of Nebel street, separating cyclists from moving vehicles. There is also a stripped buffer area to provide cyclists extra protection. Parking on the westside of Nebel Street was relocated to the east side.

An additional lane is expected to be completed on Marinelli Road, that would create a continuous protected bike lane connection from Montrose Parkway along Nebel Street to White Flint Metro Station.

Montgomery County's second protected bikeway just opened, and more are on the way

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

By Jonathan Neeley, Greater Greater Washington

On Monday, Montgomery County's second protected bikeway opened, doubling the number of lane-miles in the county where there's a physical barrier between space for bikes and general traffic. It's part of what will one day be an expansive network that will make bike commuting in Montgomery safer and more practical.

Actually comprised of two one-way lanes on either side of the road, the new infrastructure is on Nebel Street, a commercial and industrial street in White Flint that sees a lot of use. The lanes will eventually be part of a bike corridor that runs from downtown Bethesda to Twinbrook, in Rockville.

Protected bikeways are the wave of the future for Montgomery County, which has plans for a network of them in White Flint, the Life Sciences Center, and Silver Spring. In 2014, the county opened the protected bikeway on Woodglen Drive, which was one of the first of its kind in the nation for a place outside of a major city's limits (and, different from this one, has two lanes that run in opposite directions but sit side by side).

The new bikeway runs from Marinelli Road to Randolph Road. At the southern end, they will connect to bike lanes planned for Marinelli Road, which will connect to Metro and eventually to the Woodglen Drive bikeway.

The new bikeway on Nebel Street brings the county's total mileage of protected bike lanes to 0.8 miles, roughly the same number as Arlington County. The District has around six miles of protected bikeways.

Other projects to add to Montgomery's total are underway now, and more are in planning. A separated contraflow bike lane on Glenbrook Road in Bethesda will be completed within weeks, and the county hopes to begin construction on downtown Silver Spring's first protected bikeway along Spring Street in November, weather permitting.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett reaffirmed the county's commitment to building a low-stress network of bikeways at the ribbon cutting Monday. The county has a long way to go, but is working quickly to build better bike facilities.


White Flint Western Workaround Scheduled To Start Construction Next Month

Thursday, October 13, 2016

By Andrew Metcalf, Bethesda Magazine

Montgomery County plans to start construction next month on a long-awaited project to realign roads near the White Flint Metro station to create a more defined street grid that could allow new developments to move forward in the area.

The “Western Workaround” will realign Executive Boulevard where it meets Old Georgetown Road and add a new street that will create rectangular properties near the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and the Montgomery County Aquatic Center. The county estimates the road realignment project to cost $55 million.

“It’s exciting,” Dee Metz, who oversees development in White Flint for the county, said. “It’s the first step of the grid process.”

The county plans to start construction Nov. 8 on the first phase of the workaround, which will relocate and straighten Executive Boulevard starting at Marinelli Road and connect it with a new east-west road called Market Street that will also be constructed. The road work will also extend Executive Boulevard from Market Street to meet Old Georgetown Road near the Grand Park Avenue entrance to the Pike & Rose development.

To allow the construction to happen, the County Council’s transportation committee approved a resolution Thursday that gives the county permission to take property from the owners of land that has housed two car dealerships across from Pike & Rose. The county is negotiating with the property owner, VOB, and expects a land swap deal to be completed soon—possibly negating the need for the county to take the land.

During the committee meeting, VOB representatives said they would lose about 11,000 square feet of property even if the county gave VOB additional land on a parcel that would be created when Old Georgetown Road is squared near where Executive Boulevard currently meets the road. The triangular piece of land would be part of the land swap.  Despite this, the representatives said they mostly approved of the deal and expect to have an agreement with the county in place within the next week—possibly before the resolution comes before the full council Tuesday.

County Council member Roger Berliner, who chairs the committee, said the swap would provide VOB with properties that could be more valuable for future development.

The Western Workaround was first detailed as part of the White Flint Sector Plan that was approved in 2010.

“This piece is so important to get done,” Berliner said. “We’ve been waiting on this piece for a long time.”

The Western Workaround will also square off property where Gables Residential is planning a 476-unit mixed-use project on a 5-acre property that Executive Boulevard currently runs through. And the workaround helps enable the county to move forward with a $22.5 million, 650-space parking garage to replace the surface parking lot at the conference center where a realigned Executive Boulevard will be constructed.

NBC Washington - Pike District's Effect on Traffic, Shopping and Dining in Montgomery Co.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Montgomery County is redeveloping the area around White Flint Mall into a community called the Pike District. Chris Gordon reports on the effect on traffic, shopping and dining out in the county.

Pike District joins Intervention 7

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pike District is proud to be a sponsor of one of the most unique and diverse conventions in the country, Intervention 7, which celebrates the intersection of science fiction, fantasy, pop culture and the arts.

In partnership with Intervention 7, Pike District is reaching out to local high schools to sponsor students to attend the convention so that students interested in art, comics, science fiction and fantasy can meet their favorite celebrities and learn about art and technology in Intervention 7's Creator's track.

Pike District is the 2.5 mile segment of Rockville Pike in Montgomery County, Maryland that scans Grosvenor, White Flint and Twinbrook Metro Stations and is rapidly evolving into a walkable, sustainable urban-suburban community. Formerly White Flint and better known as the North Bethesda/Garrett Park area, Pike District was named #1 suburb to live in Maryland and #18 in the nation in Niche’s 2016 Best Places to Live. The County’s focus is to support and promote the diverse people, places and events within a 10-minute walk of the three metro stations.

Bethesda Magazine Restuarant Week is August 12 to 21

Thursday, August 11, 2016


















Bethesda Magazine's Restaurant Week is back! Starting August 12th and running through August 21st, over 40 restaurants are participating with 2-course Lunch menus for $16 and 3-course Dinner menus for $36.

Check out the menus of seven Pike District restaurants and make your reservation today! Click here to view the full list of restaurants.

Cava Mezze
Website | Lunch Menu | Dinner Menu | Reservations

City Perch Kitchen + Bar
Website | Dinner Menu | Reservations

Del Frisco's
Website | Lunch Menu | Dinner Menu | Reservations

Helen’s on the Pike
Website | Dinner Menu | Reservations

Seasons 52
Website | Lunch Menu | Dinner Menu | Reservations

Stella Barra Pizzeria
Website | Dinner Menu | Reservations

Summer House Santa Monica
Website | Lunch Menu | Dinner Menu | Reservations

More Than Just Berries at Westmoreland Berry Farm

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

(Fresh picked berries at Westmoreland Berry Farm.)

Westmoreland Berry Farm was started by the Voorhees Family in the early 1980s to provide premier berries and orchard fruit to the local community and top restaurants. Their berries and fruit are available as on-farm pick-your-own, in retail stores, at farm markets, and through wholesale. In addition to offering berries, fruit, and fresh produce, Westmoreland Berry Farm also carries products made with their own fruit such as jams and toppings.

Visitors to the farm are welcome to come pick-your-own on-site while enjoying tractor rides, bean bag tossing, beautiful natural scenery, and four energetic and adorable baby goats. The farm is also home to Twinkle’s Cafe where they grill up hot dogs and hamburgers and serve refreshing drinks and ice cream sundaes.

(If you visit Westmoreland Berry Farm, go meet their goats!)

Westmoreland Berry Farm focuses on growing the most delicious berries possible. To taste the difference of fresh berries picked at their peak of flavor in person, find them at Pike Central Farm Market where they have been participating since the beginning for the past four years. These scrumptious berries far exceed those in grocery stores!

A Family Affair at Westmoreland Produce

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

(From farm to farmer's market: Veggies picked fresh at Westmoreland Produce's farm.)

Family-owned and operated Westmoreland Produce was founded by husband and wife duo Arnulfo and Rosa Medina in 1989. The Medinas started off in humble beginnings but nearly three decades later, their farm remains family-owned and is operated by only family, including their adult children. Westmoreland Produce harvests all of their own produce and plants, which allows them to provide the freshest vegetables and fruits possible.

For over 20 years, Westmoreland Produce has been providing our local region with fresh produce at local farmers markets, including Pike Central Farm Market. From rotating their crops to keep the soil fertile, and hand-hoeing their field for weeding as an alterative to using herbicides, to harvesting their vegetables when they’re fully ripened, Westmoreland Produce strives to provide the best and freshest possible produce. Farming is their passion and it shows.

(Three generations of the family help run the farm!)

Their selection includes arugula, beets, cabbage, carrots, ten varieties of cherry tomatoes, watermelons, sweet corn, cantaloupes, summer squash, cucumbers, eggplant, various sweet and hot peppers, and more. Check out Westmoreland Produce at Pike Central Farm Market and stock up on locally-farmed fresh veggies, fruit, and plants!

It's All About All Things Olive!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

(Keith Voight of All Things Olive at a local farmer's market.)

All Things Olive brings real, fresh, extra virgin olive oil from California to our local markets. They have partnered with a select group of small, family-owned farms with distinctive terrains and climates and feature a wide variety of olive cultivars. All Things Olive’s partner farms range from the Carmel Valley in the south, up through the Napa and Sacramento Valleys, and northeast along the Sierra Nevada Foothills toward Lake Tahoe.

Each farm reflects a passion for making olive oil that extends from the tree to the table, producing olive oils of complexity and character. The olive oil industry is essentially unregulated. But while others may mask the origin of their olive oils by offering you a bottle filled from a shiny steel tank, each of All Things Olive’s partner farms has been certified as an extra virgin olive oil producer by the California Olive Oil Council, an independent third party. Every bottle has been filled, labeled, and sealed by the family farm that proudly created it, resulting in a quality selection of certified extra virgin olive oils that range in flavor from sweeter-than-butter to leafy-green-and-grassy.

(All Things Olive partners with farms that have been certified as extra virgin olive oil producers.)

All Things Olive has been participating in Pike Central Farm Market since its inception four years ago. Come sample their offering of California extra virgin olive oil in person at Pike Central Farm Market!