Cabin John Village departures leave behind nostalgia for customers


Photo by Cecilia Bernstein

This section was added to Cabin John Mall in 2018 and includes community favorites Shake Shack, CAVA, SIsters Thai and Colada Shop.

By Cecilia Bernstein, Photo Manager

It started with one restaurant, then two. Now, almost all of the old restaurants are gone. It’s not just restaurants – stores and businesses have shut their doors as well. Over the past few years, community members have noticed that their favorite childhood shops in Cabin John Village have been replaced by new storefronts.

With the rise of modern chains, the world has seen a decline in classic mom and pop businesses. Modern restaurants with gourmet food in a quick and relaxed setting have become very popular lately in Cabin John. This trendy new type of retail is what has taken most of the places of these old businesses.

“It’s sad to see these places gone. I remember going to Cabin John Mall as a little kid,” WCHS sophomore Summer Polhemus said. “All I wanted was to get toys from Toy Castle.”

In 2016, the real estate company Edens bought Cabin John Village. Their plan was to transform it into a more urban hangout spot for the community. The shutting down of many small businesses to convert the strip mall into a more current shopping center was the inevitable next step.

While these renovations have been very controversial, there is not much to complain about as they have really benefited the community. The social perimeter has expanded, the restaurants are favorites in the community and there are new options for people to dine at. The property now includes new freestanding sections with establishments that have become fast favorites, including Boulangerie Christophe and Colada Shop. 

Though there are many benefits, there have been a few objections in the community. Many were excited to see evolution while others did not want to say goodbye to the old Cabin John Village.

“I am sad to see a lot of these small businesses be replaced,” WCHS sophomore Julieta Matus said. “While I think I’ll probably like these new places, I won’t forget running into Baskin Robbins begging my parents for a scoop.”

Some other places that are missed include Goldberg’s Bagels, Lahinch Tavern and Grill, Subway and Toy Castle. All of these places were very popular within the community, but now most have been replaced with the aforementioned more trendy and modern stores.

“Baskin Robbins was a very fun shop and I loved going there,” Matus said. “I really love The  Scoop but everytime I go in there, the nostalgia hits me.”

In 2017, plans were revealed to construct an array of businesses throughout the property; the occupants of these new spaces have proven very popular so far. Restaurants like Shake Shack, CAVA and Sisters Thai have all brought in a steady stream of customers. Just as the developers hoped, the area has become a very popular place to hang out, and despite some mixed reviews, most have been positive.

“Cabin John didn’t used to be a good social spot as there was really nowhere to hangout,” Polhemus said. “But now I go to the Shake Shack area a lot with friends and it’s a place I’m really glad they added.”

One major community concern about this turnover in Cabin John is that all this new construction takes up a lot of space. Adding the new buildings has cost valuable parking spots and the construction equipment and building site has for years inconvenienced shoppers and diners as it tears down stores to build new ones.

“Anytime I go, there’s always construction going on,” Matus said. “I’m happy new places are coming to the mall, but it’s getting in the way of my activities.”

Cabin John Mall is only about a 20 minute walk from WCHS and has always been very popular amongst students. With the proximity, many WCHS students have seen first-hand the transformation of Cabin John through the years as they have seen places come and go.

“Over the years I have seen places like China Gourmet Bistro open and then close,” Polhemus said. “It’s been interesting to see the whole place evolve and I hope to see more businesses open up in Cabin John that resemble my childhood memories.”

The turnover in Cabin John Village has been bittersweet for many WCHS students, but these changes have really made a difference in the shopping center and reviews have been mainly encouraging. The evolution of the community’s favorite location will only continue to grow and progress as time goes on.

“I think as time goes on, we’ll appreciate these new shops more and more and will appreciate what the developers have done,” Matus said. “A small part of us will always miss the old Cabin John but will be happy with the turnover.”