April 17, 2014

Jul 17, 201309:54 AMTable Talk

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar joining weekend sidewalk sale

Jul 17, 2013 - 09:54 AM
Max Brenner Chocolate Bar joining weekend sidewalk sale

Photo by Carole Sugarman. See more photos in the gallery below.

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, the Bethesda chocolate dessert and retail shop that’s creating quite a (sugar) buzz, won’t be open until probably next week. But in the meantime, the restaurant will be setting up shop outside from Friday, July 19 to Sunday, July 21, as part of the Bethesda Row Summer Sidewalk Sale.

Chocoholics will only get a teaser, however, since candy can’t be offered in the scorching temperatures.

Instead, the shop will be selling its line of signature utensils, which include the Alice “Drink Me” Cup (for milkshakes), the Kangaroo Cup (a coffee cup with a pouch on the side for chocolate; it comes with a Mix/Lick spoon), and the Fondue Tower (made with three ceramic sections; the top one holds the melted chocolate). The Hug Mug, shaped for hugging with both hands, is meant for enjoying a cozy cup of hot chocolate, a drink probably not in the cards for this heat-wave weekend.

The opening of the Bethesda shop has been a long haul for the New York-based chain, which had hoped to open last month but ran into permitting delays (see my blog, July 9). The company, founded in Israel in 1996, now has 40 locations worldwide.

In an interview today at the not-quite-finished Bethesda restaurant, CEO Sam Borgese said that county health and building inspections were scheduled for tomorrow (July 18). The restaurant passed its fire inspection today.

After Max Brenner passes its final inspections, it won’t open for another three days or so, to finish up cosmetic issues and nail down training, Borgese said. The shop hired 30 local people, including “chocolistas,” who make the chocolate drinks, and “architects” who build the desserts.

Customers will order at a counter, but staff members bring out the dishes (think Popsicle Fondue, Peanut Butter and Banana Crepe, Chocolate Chunks Pizza). The Bethesda location will be the first in the chain to roll out “Fast Max” carryout, packaged in attractive boxes.

Right now, the restaurant is still missing some wall décor and signs, but the counter, seating, chocolate vats and overhead chocolate-colored pipes have been installed.

Spoiler alert: the pipes don’t really transport melted chocolate.

It’s meant to give the place “a playful environment,” says Borgese, who added that a Max Brenner franchise owner in South Korea was even stumped about their veracity. According to Borgese, he asked, “‘so how often do we need to clean out the pipes?’ ”


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About This Blog

Welcome to Table Talk, the blog version of the column in Bethesda Magazine. Be one of the first to find out about new restaurants and food shops, and join in the lively discussion about first bites, snipes and recommendations.

Before becoming Food Editor of Bethesda Magazine, Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter for The Washington Post for 20 years. She has also written for national food magazines and a food policy newsletter, as well as judged cookbook and cooking contests. She lives in Chevy Chase where she eats PB&J for lunch when she’s not working.

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