Baltimore Joins the SAFE Cities Network to Provide Legal Assistance for Immigrants — Baltimore magazine
Five months after Gundy’s Gift Shop closed in Roland Park, a new merchant is taking over the space.
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No, Arrested Development fans, you were not dreaming when you thought you saw George Bluth (or Jeffrey Tambor, the actor who plays him) buying a sandwich at Eddie’s in Mount Vernon yesterday afternoon.
As planning for what to do with the vacant lot in the heart of Charles Village (that grassy expanse between 32nd and 33rd Streets, along St. Paul Street) began to develop, there was some talk of bringing in a grocery store to anchor the space. But that won’t be happening, according to Armada Hoffler, the developer of the site, because Charles Village residents are afraid that a larger grocery store would run beloved local market Eddie’s out of business.
I love grocery shopping. Absolutely love it. I’m proud to say that I think part of my grocery shopping success — what makes it feel more like a pleasant outing than a chore — is that I don’t subject myself to the giant chains. It’s not hard, since Baltimore is a town with a spectrum of options when it comes to stocking the kitchen, and among the crowd one store stands out: Eddie’s of Roland Park. How, exactly? Well, for generations it has offered the finest meats and produce, fancy foods and one-of-a-kind customer service that families in North Baltimore have come to rely on and cherish.
This Saturday, the Baltimore culinary landmark celebrates 20 years (and three generations) at the Charles Street store with a “Shop Local” anniversary event. The event is meant as a way to say “thank you” to customers old and new, while offering tastings from some of Maryland’s finest food purveyors. This doesn’t just mean tasty samples (though of course, there’ll be plenty). It also means a meet-and-greet with local vendors. As Nancy Cohen, President of Eddie’s (and the daughter of its founder, Victor Cohen) tells us, “We have always prided ourselves on our relationships with local vendors. We like to say that we promoted local products before it was fashionable to do so.” And in terms of selecting local products for its shelves, Eddie’s certainly knows how to pick ‘em. The store has been a dedicated carrier of Zeke’s Coffee (the treasured local roaster currently has Orioles themed coffees available in the stores) as well as of Albert Kirchmayr—a noted local purveyor of top-quality, hand-crafted chocolates. They also carry Vanns Spices—locally bottled herbs, spices and seasoning blends favored by chefs and home cooks across the country. “What makes these vendors special,” says Cohen, “is the care they take in making their products. They use the best ingredients in products that make Baltimore proud. We know our customers like to support local businesses and small businesses, as do we. These vendors are not big corporations, they are small, closely held businesses, just like Eddie’s of Roland Park.”
When I heard Harris Teeter might be coming to my neck of the woods, I whined in protest: No, say it isn’t so.
I have nothing against Harris Teeter. In fact, I’ve enjoyed the few visits I’ve made to the specialty grocery store in other locations. The prepared foods selection is appealing, the aisles are wide and brightly lit, the employees friendly. But in no way do I want it coming anywhere near my house, as is rumored to be the case. It just might send me over the edge.
While I feel for those folks who live in “food deserts,” where few if any grocery stores exist and residents are reduced to buying junk food at corner stores, I suffer from the opposite problem.
There are so many grocery stores within a three-mile radius of my house, each with its own niche in the food industry, that I could spend hours each week just driving around to each one, picking up a little of this and a little of that and still not coming home with everything I need. I’m trying to rein in the habit by sticking to one or two stores to stock up on groceries for my family, whose appetites are growing alongside the food store options in Towson.
Erich March and his wife, Michele Speaks-March, were sick and tired of watching neighbors in their East Baltimore community die of preventable conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Why were these illnesses so incredibly rampant in their area? Erich and Michele, who co-own the March Funeral Homes, blamed the dearth of food-shopping options nearby. They put their heads together to brainstorm a solution to food-desert problem plaguing the Oliver, South Clifton, and Darley Park neighborhoods in the greater North Avenue neighborhood. Their light bulb of a simple, practical idea is inspiring, because they’re putting it into daily practice.