‘The Bake is Back’: City officials celebrate Upton roller rink’s renovation and reopening

Share the News

Photo by Ethan McLeod

For retired Baltimore Colts wide receiver Glen “Shake and Bake” Doughty, Friday morning was a triumphant moment. More than half a year after the city shut down his eponymous Upton rolling-skating rink and bowling alley due to its falling into a state of disrepair, he was there to celebrate its revival.

“Make no mistake, it’s time to shake and bake!” he shouted in the lobby.

In August 2017, the city temporarily closed the 36-year-old Shake and Bake Family Fun Center, saying the building at 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue needed major repairs, including structural upgrades. At a press conference Friday, officials unveiled the mostly restored center—the lower-floor bowling alley remains shuttered—and offered a demo of the new rink.

Baltimore Recreation and Parks Director Reginald Moore detailed some of the fixes put in place over the fall and winter months: HVAC upgrades, a repaired roof, a new kitchen and equipment for the concessions stands, replaced lighting, a fresh new paint job, a brand new skating floor, 500 new skates, and improved restrooms. Mayor Catherine Pugh also mentioned that the event space located right inside the front door, named for Billie Holliday, had been expanded.

“It’s a big overhaul,” Moore said.

At a presser, Pugh highlighted some of the problems she observed after a walk-through last year. She addressed Doughty, who stood nearby.

“The roof was falling in, Glen, the floor was buckled. We were hard-pressed to find matching skates in here. The concession stands didn’t work, and it just was unconscionable that we thought it was OK for the youth of this community—and let’s not leave out the adults.”

Pugh said she felt some community backlash after the closure announcement last summer. “When I shut it down, my phone blew up like a fire engine, and people were telling me, ‘You know we skate there.’ I said, ‘but when the roof falls down on your head, who do you think is gonna be responsible?’”

Mayor Catherine Pugh (left) and Glen “Shake and Bake” Doughty. Photo by Ethan McLeod.

Doughty started the Shake and Bake in 1982 after purchasing a vacant lot from the city for $1, per the Maryland Historical Society. With nearly $5 million in public development loans, he built a 70,000-square-foot recreational haven with a bowling alley, roller-skating rink, arcade, concessions and more, right in the middle of Upton.

But after several years–and despite its popularity, with tens of thousands of visitors reportedly coming each week when it opened–Doughty fell behind on his payments, and sold the building back to the city in 1985. The local government took over for more than a decade, but after a four-year period during the 1990s when the Shake and Bake lost more than $1.6 million, officials brought in a private operator to manage it.

In recent years, under the management of Kingdom Managed Inc., the venue had hosted a number of community events, including toy drives and fundraisers. Shake and Bake was rented out for adults-only parties, concerts (Gucci Mane performed there in 2013) and boxing matches, among other events.

Asked whether Shake and Bake will still play host to events catering to adults, Moore said, “That’s not our focus, no. It’s an entertainment center we’re going to [use to] enhance our youth in our community. That’s our goal.”

Inside the rink, a handful of teens scooted around, showing off the facility’s new roller skates and wood flooring as a DJ played pop tunes. Multi-colored LED and disco lights roved around. The back wall was freshly painted with a logo reading, “#the Bake is Back.”

Rashaan Brave, a manager of the facility and the Recreation and Parks Department’s division chief of youth and adult sports and special facilities, said the sound equipment is also brand new. “It’s state of the art. I think that’s one of my favorite parts of what we did.”

The bowling alley still needs to be fixed. Recreation and Parks is working with a bowling-alley consultant to assess how it should improve the lanes and upgrade televisions that keep score, Moore said. Asked how much it will cost, he said “we’ll continue to develop our plans and get our final plans, so we have not gotten a final dollar amount yet.”

He also said the city has no plans to bring in an outside management firm again, and has enough staff to manage the venue.

At the presser, Pugh, City Council President Jack Young, Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton and others celebrated Doughty’s vision to found the center back in 1982. Young said it gave many of his friends a place to go skating, without having to travel to outside areas with skating rinks like Virginia and Philadelphia.

“We’re really thrilled to reopen this landmark,” Pugh said, “because it is a landmark in this part of the city. We will be shaking and baking forever.”

A reopening celebration is scheduled for tonight. It begins at 7 p.m. Thereafter, the facility will be open 7-10 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, 6-9 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 p.m. to midnight Thursdays. Weekend skating sessions run as late as 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and as late as midnight on Sunday.

Ethan McLeod
Follow Ethan

Share the News