Shop Talk

NYAJ Celebrates First Year

Not Your Average Joes (NYAJ) celebrated its one-year anniversary in Kentlands on July 30 at an event attended by Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz, City Council members and others.

Katz issued a proclamation declaring it NYAJ Day in the city and recognizing the restaurant for its community giving programs throughout the past year. The business has donated $12,000 in cash and provided additional in-kind contributions to local nonprofit organizations since it opened. At the anniversary event, Gaithersburg residents Rene Teger and her mother, Francis Floman, were the beneficiaries of a joint effort between NYAJ and the nonprofit Nourish Now organization to provide a free meal at the Kentlands restaurant to a family each week.

NYAJ has enjoyed a brisk business in its first year, including on its outdoor patio, which opened for the season during the first week of April.

“On busier shifts, more people actually request outside than inside, even on not so nice days,” said general manager Jeff Kops. “[In addition] we recently redid the front patio, and we find that a lot of folks will expect the same level of attentiveness as indoor diners. “NYAJ really prides itself on its service — as much as the creative casual quality food we prepare.”

Kops added that business in general is healthy and increasing, and the patio is a good advertisement of that. “It’s not just the fact of the patio itself — people driving into the center see all the guests outside and they want to be part of the fun.”

Other than the menu, which experiences regular additions and subtractions and many monthly specials, not much has changed in the past year for all those hungry patrons of NYAJ Gaithersburg.

“We had such a great start, [and] we are happy to be operating at a high level,” Kops said. “The truth is that if it isn’t broke, we don’t fix it. We do, though, every day, listen to what our guests are telling us. [Our motto is:] The answer is always yes; what is the question?”

Designs with ‘Impakt’

Kentlands residents and longtime friends Abby Pardes and Kristin Swick started Impakt Design, which specializes in digital and web design for businesses, in 2011 to serve a wide array of greater D.C.-area businesses. The duo creates anything from business logos to postcards and ads to e-newsletters and any form of digital visual communication.

“Our motto is creative design for visual communications,” said Pardes.

Before starting Impakt together, Pardes worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years as a freelancer and for an assortment of associations and corporations. Swick, whom the two women consider the “business side of the business,” worked in marketing and branding and also served as business manager for a franchise of “The Little Gym,” for which she ran three locations.

The two met because they both live in Kentlands and their husbands worked together at the time for Fanny Mae. They consulted together on small projects before starting Impakt.

“At first we almost bought a business together, but when it fell through, we just went ahead [starting Impakt] because we already knew we worked really well together,” said Swick.

Impakt is based in Kentlands, where Pardes and Swick share a home office in Swick’s house. Their office is pet-friendy, and Pardes’ pug and Swick’s golden retriever spend most of their time there together.

The women agree they are very happy working in Kentlands. “We love the flexibility of working here. It’s so easy to have meetings and [take breaks to] walk our dogs around the neighborhood,” said Swick.

“And not having the commute is huge,” added Pardes emphatically.

They have worked with many businesses in the Kentlands Downtown Partnership, as well as with the city of Gaithersburg. Impakt recently designed the new banners that will hang in the Kentlands area as part of “The Shops at Main and Market” Branding and Streetscape Initiative.

Pardes and Swick believe their design group is different from the competition because they take their client’s branding strongly into consideration.

“We are creative, but practical. We want the work to function well for the client,” said Pardes.

The pair does not specialize in the kind of industry they work with, which the women say sets them apart from other graphic design groups. “We believe it gives us a broader perspective and a more diverse service, “ they said. “It keeps us fresh.”

For more information on Impakt Design Group, visit

Famous Dave’s Moving?

Long simmering rumors that the Kentlands Famous Dave’s restaurant is planning to move recently began to boil over when area residents noticed signs for a Famous Dave’s coming into the new Wegmans-anchored shopping center in Germantown.

Jay Quander, general manager of the Kentlands restaurant, was hesitant to make comments about the speculated move without corporate approval. When pressed, he said, “I plead the Fifth.”

Requests to speak with the area director of Famous Dave’s had not been answered at press time.

End of an Era

On July 25, O’Donnell’s Sea Grill owner Bill Edelblut was honored by Ride Allegheny and Operation Second Chance in front of many patrons for his long-time support of the Kentlands community. O’Donnell’s closed on July 27 after 90 years in business in the Washington, D.C. area.