As is the case with the closing of other iconic restaurants in Montgomery County, the absence of Roy's Place has left a hole in the hearts of many current and former MoCo residents.
According to the Roy's Place website, they began serving their 200+ sandwiches in Rockville in 1955. After a couple moves within Rockville, they settled in the Gaithersburg location so many know and love in 1971.
Roy Passin, the original owner, was a huge part of Roy's Place until his passing in May of 2009 at 87. Many say the restaurant just wasn't the same during the 4 years it lasted without him. His creative sandwich ideas, based on what his friends enjoyed and the ingredients available in the restaurant, grew the menu from 2 pages to 23, according to a 2009 Gazette article.
By all accounts, Roy was a larger than life type of guy. There was a rumor that he once ran a man out of his restaurant while wielding a meat cleaver. In an interview with Frederick News Post in 2003, he stated that "It never happened in Gaithersburg...it happened in Rockville." 😂
A photo of Roy Passin in his restaurant, courtesy of the Gazette (2009)
Roy's Place was such a hit at the new Gaithersburg location in the 70s that is spawned a second location, known as Roy's Place Too, in Columbia. There was even some controversy when a former manager was hired by D.C. restaurant, Dudley P's, and was accused (in court) of taking the recipes of some of the sandwiches with him. Roy's Place Too closed in the 80s, but the Gaithersburg restaurant thrived well into the 90s.
In a 2011 Gazette article, one of the restaurant's managers stated that Roy's had been breaking even (or worse) for a decade before Roy Passin died, which almost led to the restaurant's demise in 2011. It lasted another 2 years before closing permanently in March of 2013.
Many of the 200+ sandwiches were named after some of Roy's closest friends and favorite customers. It would be great to hear the stories behind some of the famous sandwiches that were available at Roy's Place.
Here are a few photos of Roy's Place, courtesy of their website:
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If you lived in or around MoCo in the 80s and early 90s, you probably remember Kim's Karate. If I remember correctly, their slogan was "Have fun with the martial arts!"
Here's a commercial from 1987:
Some referred to Kim's Karate as "McDojos" since they kind of popped up everywhere in this 15 year span and promoted people to black belts quite a bit faster than most martial arts training centers.
I had a family friend that was a few years older than me that was actually teaching classes to younger kids when he was just 14 years old (I believe he trained with Kim's Karate for over 2 years before he started teaching classes). He was the reason I signed up for Karate when I was about 9 or 10 years old.
I remember my mom had to sign a contract that was nearly impossible to get out of when I quit three months later. After speaking with her about it a couple days ago, she told me that she signed me up for a year at over $100 a month (this was back in the early 90s, so it was quite pricey at the time). She told me she cancelled the credit card in order to get out of the contract because Kim's Karate wouldn't let her out of it even if she agreed to pay for an extra month after I stopped attending. Ultimately, she did sign the contract, but it was 10 year old me's fault...so I feel like they probably should have let her out.
With that said, my memories of Kim's Karate aren't bad. I earned a yellow belt (you started off without a belt, go to white, and then yellow was next). I went from barely being able to do a couple push ups, to being able to do 25 in just a few months. The sensei's swung this bamboo stick under the classes legs as they held a kick at a certain height...if your foot came too low when the bamboo stick was around you, your foot got whacked. It didn't really hurt, but I doubt that would fly nowadays. Sparring was fun as well, because we didn't make any contact. I was able to spar with older or younger kids without worrying about getting beat up or hurting them. I've read that the no-contact sparring became a problem for Kim's Karate students at actual competitions, where sparring was full-contact.
At the end of the day it was a fun experience, but some poor business practices led to the demise of the Karate franchise that swept the DMV in the 80s and 90s. I think a few may still be around, but I don't know if they're still affiliated with the original company.
Here's another photo that may help jog your memory.
We've received a tip in comment form from one of our Facebook followers regarding the possibility of the first medical marijuana dispensary coming to MoCo.
We were told that one of the managers of Middlebrook Square shopping center has told our follower (very close connection between the two) that the first dispensary in MoCo will be located in the Germantown Shopping Center.
A quick search resulted in the screen capture found in this article; a job listing on Indeed.com
with a listing for 'Medical Cannabis Dispensary Agents (Budtenders)' in Germantown, MD.
I have not spoken with management from the shopping center, so for now this is still a rumor.
Growing up, I remember going to the Jerry's Subs & Pizza location on Quince Orchard Rd. in Gaithersburg and playing arcade games while my parents and I waited for our subs to be made.
I always looked at Jerry's as a major chain, even though I worked at the Olney location for a month when I was 17. It wasn't until I stumbled across their headquarters in Gaithersburg that I found out Jerry's was born (and raised) right here in MoCo.
The first Jerry's location ever opened in Wheaton in 1954. 10 years later, they officially became Jerry's Subs & Pizza and have grown to almost 50 stores in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. They even opened their first sports bar version of Jerry's in Hagerstown earlier this year.
I grew up on Jerry's, and though this opinion may be unpopular, I find their cheesesteaks better than any of the cheesesteaks I've tried in Philly (and believe me, I've tried almost all of the big name spots).
Jerry's Subs & Pizza. The MoCo Cheesesteaks.
In the mid-80s, Aris Mardirossian opened his convenience store named "6-Twelve," based on the worldwide chain 7-Eleven (7,400 stores in North America with hundreds more across the world at the time).
By 1990, his Gaithersburg-based chain grew to 20 stores and there were rumors that he would be purchasing 600 7-Eleven stores in the DMV (the rumors were denied by 7-Eleven executives).
The massive expansion didn't occur, but the chain hasn't disappeared. There are still multiple stores in the area.
Owner, Aris Mardirossian, bought the Crown Farm property (Gaithersburg) in the mid-2000s. Part of it later became Downtown Crown and that part was sold in 2015 for just under $163 million. He was also the owner of the popular rt. 355 restaurant, The Flaming Pit.