Shop Talk

Rockafellas Rocks On

Amid months of rumors that the restaurant is being sold or closed, Rockafellas is still going strong and “doing great,” said co-owner and manager Bill Tempchin, who runs the restaurant alongside his son, Matt.

Rockafellas has been serving up burgers and beer since the restaurant opened at 12111 Darnestown Road in April 2010. Tempchin described business as remaining steady, with slow days early in the week followed by all-day weekend crowds. He said things get busier at this time of year, with many people hosting holiday parties or booking private parties in the restaurant.

“I expect to be busy pretty much … into January,” said Tempchin recently, “until the kids go back to college.”

Rockafellas is similar to other sports bars in that sporting events are the big draw. Customers can enjoy watching their favorite teams on TV while enjoying yummy bar food and drinking beer from tap. But Rockafellas is more of a local neighborhood destination, offering an authenticity that the chain sports bars may lack.

“Most of our customers live within five minutes of here,” said Tempchin, “and everyone loves the food.”

Tempchin said Rockafellas can get quite packed during certain sporting events, such as a Redskins, Ravens and even Steelers football games. Hockey has also become quite popular over the last few years, and Tempchin admitted the lack of games due to the NHL lockout “has hurt business.”

Luckily, football and trivia nights still keep Rockafellas hopping. Additionally, live music on Friday and Saturday nights bring in new customers all the time, he said. Platform Soul is featured on Jan. 5, Dosage on Jan. 11, Soul Easy on Jan. 26 and Radio Beast on Feb. 1. Another upcoming event is Rockafellas’ benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Feb. 2, during which 15 percent of each customer’s check will go toward the cause.

As for the rumors that Rockafellas is on its way out? Tempchin said, “I have nothing I want to say about it to my customers or to my employees.”

JT Interiors Returns

Longtime Kentlands residents and former customers may well remember JT Interiors, a home décor and gift store and interior design studio, formerly located in the Main Street space now occupied by Pritchard Music Academy. The store, which closed in 2010, has reopened in a renovated historic house at 9906 River Road in Potomac, Md.

Terri Downs, who owns JT Interiors, has lived in Kentlands for many years. Feeling that the community had a need for a design/gift store, said Downs, she and business partner Jim Blank, of Flowers By Jim in Frederick, Md., opened JT Interiors in 2004. The business was well received, and JT’s decorated many homes in Kentlands, Lakelands and Quince Orchard Park.

Several homes decorated by JT Interiors were featured on the Kentlands Home and Garden tours over the years, and in 2008, the shop was named one of the “Top 50 Stores We Love” in Montgomery County by Bethesda Magazine.

“One of the things that sets us apart from other stores,” said Downs “and has brought our customers back to us again and again, is our unique inventory.”

Downs and Blank decided to close the retail side of the business in 2010, but the interior design studio continued to operate on the lower level of the same location.

In 2008, Downs opened a sister store, Savannah’s Home Décor and Gifts in historic downtown Leesburg, Va. She also opened Downs & Co., a gourmet, gift and garden store, nearby in 2009. Since this store is in a renovated historic house, Downs is able to advertise for Savannah’s with custom window treatments in every room, as well as custom wall art.

Downs said she searched for two years for a space in which to reopen the JT Interiors retail business, finally finding a historic house on River Road. She renovated this house as well, advertising her design business through window treatments, wall art and carpentry.

“Many of our Kentlands and Lakelands clients followed us to Leesburg,” said Downs. “Now that we have reopened [JT’s] in Potomac, it is my goal to again offer our customers beautiful upscale gifts that you cannot find in the mall or in a box store.”

The new JT Interiors is a bit different from the original store in Kentlands. “We now have a large area of the store allocated to gourmet gifts such as Stonewall Kitchen, Saxon Chocolates, Yolka Chocolates and Tea Forte,” Downs said. “[And] while we still carry upscale home décor, we now also carry Juliska china, Michael Aram and Analee linens, as well as Spartina jewelry.”

For more information, visit JT Interiors at Potomac House on Facebook. A website for the store is still under construction but is expected to be up and running sometime in January.

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