Image credit: Ziger/Snead.

Eddie’s of Roland Park is about to begin a 15-month renovation, but it won’t close while construction is underway.

During a recent meeting of the Roland Park Civic League, co-owner Michael Schaffer and architect Ann Powell outlined the scope of work and said it will be carried out in two phases, with a break during the winter holidays.

“We’re very excited after a lot of work that we now have interior plans, some interior elevations and a rough idea of how we’re going to do everything,” Schaffer said. “We have very good momentum.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last March, Eddie’s was aiming to apply for permits in the fall of 2020 and be under construction by now. The revised timeline is as follows:

June 2021 through October 2021: Basement improvements, new “vertical circulation” including stairs and a “lift,” and Roland Avenue exterior improvements. Work also may begin on interior improvements, depending on the progress of the other work.

November and December 2021: No construction.

January 2022 through September 2022: Retail improvements inside, service counters and kitchen.

The scope of work includes creating a new entrance vestibule and awning on the exterior and an extensive renovation and upgrading of the interior, with new equipment, counters and layout.

Powell, of Ziger Snead Architects, said the design team drew inspiration from markets in Baltimore and New York City, including Lexington Market downtown and businesses in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district, where it can be hard to tell where the outside stops and the inside begins.

“We’re talking about bringing the market into the public domain,” Powell said. “We see that big wide sidewalk as a place to engage and catalyze” the neighborhood.

Powell said the designers have completed the design development phase and are working on construction documents needed to get permits. She said the interior improvements will be completed in “a rolling series” of phases, from south to north, so the store can remain open while construction is underway.

Lewis Contractors, the same firm working to restore the Roland Water Tower, will be the construction manager for the building at 5113 Roland Avenue.

One big change on the inside, Powell said, will be the removal of two layers of drop ceilings to expose the original ceiling above, making the space feel much bigger.

“We really like the idea that we can expose the wood ceiling,” she said. “You have no idea how much vertical space is up there.”

A major goal of the changes is to accentuate the merchandise more, she added.

“Everything that happens down at the retail level will be fresh and crisp,” she said. “It’s really a very neutral concept designed around elevating the products. As a regular shopper at Eddie’s, I just can’t imagine the impact that these renovations are really going to have with the store.”

Another change will be making the liquor section the same level as the rest of the store, she said.

“We’re going to raise everything up to be one floor level,” she said. There will be “all new clean equipment, all new retail shelving, a larger, free-floating salad bar…The renovations that are happening will allow us to straighten out the kinks on the back wall so everything on the back wall of the store will be service counters – seafood, meat, prepared foods. That will really improve the clarity of the circulation.”

The wine department will move to an aisle, Schaffer said.

“It will become kind of a regular part of your shopping experience,” he said. “Our intention is to make it an easy and accessible flow when you’re in there doing your regular grocery shopping.”

Some areas, such as the floral department, candy, coffee and the deli will stay in the same part of the store, but there will be new cashier stands and all new finishes, Powell said.

“We like it because we think it will be a little bit of what we’re familiar with as well as massive changes for the better,” she said.

The Civic League supported Eddie’s in its zoning board application to add the awning and entrance vestibule. Its session on Eddie’s drew more than 45 participants on Zoom, far more than most of its meetings.

“I think all of us are incredibly grateful. You have all really seen us through this pandemic,” said Civic League President Robert Connors, at the end of the presentation.

“Every time I go in there, you can still tell people are smiling, even though they have their masks on. Their eyes are still nice and bright. We really do appreciate this.”

Another fan of the store is filmmaker and writer John Waters, who raved about it during a recent virtual Q&A session organized by Magic City Books of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

When Magic City’s interviewer asked the filmmaker what he thought is the best grocery store in the country during the pandemic, Waters didn’t hesitate:

“Easy, Eddie’s in Baltimore,” he said. “The best grocery store. If they know you well enough, not only will they deliver it, they’ll put it away. They know where it goes in your house.”

Another plus of shopping at Eddie’s, Waters said, is that he often runs into local author Anne Tyler.

“I always see Anne Tyler in there. She goes there,” he said. “All the literary types in Baltimore go to Eddie’s.”

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.

2 replies on “Eddie’s Market of Roland Park to begin renovations this spring”

  1. Let’s hope they can also figure out how make the Deli more efficient. Slowest on the East coast IMHO.

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