Miss Toya’s, Sportrock climbing gym among new tenants at Gaithersburg’s Rio

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL – Alexandria’s Sportrock Climbing Centers and D.C. chef Jeffeary Miskiri’s restaurant group are among a handful of local businesses setting up shop at Rio, the Gaithersburg mixed-use development formerly known as Washingtonian Center.

Peterson Cos. has inked new lease deals with four tenants for a combined 45,000 square feet, the largest of which is Sportrock’s agreement to take over 40,000 square feet at 9811 Washingtonian Blvd. once occupied by fitness chain Sport & Health. Joining the two-level climbing center will be Miss Toya’s Southern Kitchen, one of several brands from Miskiri Hospitality Group, which has leased the 2,741-square-foot space at 229 Boardwalk Place vacated by burger chain BGR last month.

Unlike some of Rio’s other tenants, such as Dave & Buster’s, Kohl’s, and Uncle Julio’s, the incoming tenants are locally based franchises, selected to help the retail center appeal to a broader base of consumers and prospective tenants, said Paul Weinschenk, president of retail for Peterson.

“What we’re trying to do is to create a merchandise mix…so if you want to come out on a Friday night and you want Mexican, there’s Guapo’s or Uncle Julio’s, or there’s also True Food Kitchen and other options.” Weinschenk said.

Also coming to the lakefront location off the Intercounty Connector is the local Mochi donut chain Donutchew, which will take the space Starbucks vacated in September, and Goodbar restaurant group’s Charley Prime Foods, which is moving into space that had been most recently occupied by Tara Thai. Goodbar’s other restaurants include Bar Charley and Little Coco’s in D.C. and Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring.

The deal with Miskiri is Peterson’s second with the local restaurateur. The other is in Downtown Silver Spring, where Miskiri is close to opening another Miss Toya’s. That one has a special connection for Miskiri, a Takoma Park native who met his wife, Toya, at the Silver Spring Whole Foods Market, according to Weinschenk.

“They’re very much a local story,” he said. “He grew up in the area, they live in Montgomery County, and as they’ve looked to branch out…Silver Spring made a lot of sense.”

As those Silver Spring negotiations went forward, both sides felt a Miskiri restaurant would be a good fit for Rio, which has “some really excellent restaurants” but none serving New Orleans-style food, Weinschenk said.

Attorney Marc Rosendorf represented Miskiri in the lease negotiations, while a team including Michael Leon represented the landlord.

It’s shaping up to be a busy year for Miskiri, the D.C. chef, who got his start with Po Boy Jim, the cajun creole restaurant that opened on H Street Northeast in 2014. He recently opened a new Po Boy in Columbia, and has also branched out to Cleveland, where his House of Creole opened earlier this year. He’s also planning two new restaurants, a second Southern Kitchen, and Miss Toya’s Soul Juice, at Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners’ refurbished Shops at Penn Branch in D.C.

Given the lakefront location, the Rio restaurant will have a more relaxed vibe than some of his more urban stores, Miskiri said. It will be the first of his restaurants to have a breakfast menu, but will still include some of the southern-influenced dishes that have drawn fans to his other outposts, such as red beans and rice, macaroni and cheese and a southern fried chicken sandwich.

“People that want to enjoy time on the water, they want to take the time to really enjoy it,” Miskiri said

To view the article on Washington Business Journal’s website, click here.

Sign Up
For Updates