Inside View: AFRO Talks to Black Businesses Inside Baltimore’s New and Improved Lexington Market

by Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer,
Report to America Corps Member,
[email protected]

The Transform Lexington Market project has been underway since 2019, and soon the new South Market and outdoor urban plaza will be open to the public. The revitalized space will open its doors this fall, and a community meeting to discuss programming, arts and future uses for the market spaces is already scheduled for November.

From the beginning of the $45 million project, the Transform Lexington Market team intentionally engaged residents and businesses from across the city to participate in the development of the building. They also promised from the start that the new market would better reflect the diversity of the city of Baltimore by increasing the representation of buildings owned by blacks, women and city residents.

The Transform Lexington Market team, with the help of the Baltimore Corps, created a two-step vendor selection process that included a first look by more than 30 community reviewers and a final interview and decision phase led by a committee Diverse selection made up of community members, industry leaders. and small business professionals.

Here’s a look at some of the black-owned businesses that will occupy the new building.

thrown together

For chef and visionary Tselane-Danielle Holloway, securing a spot in the new Lexington Market building has been a dream come true.

When she was a young adult, all of her friends couldn’t wait for an after-school snack at Lexington Market. As she walked past the stalls of the enterprising chefs, she would someday wish she had her own business in the historic market. Finally, that day she is within our reach.

Tossed Together is a quick and casual salad and soup concept, and Holloway is on a mission to show customers that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, bland or expensive. She knows that people eat with their eyes, which is why each salad and soup is packed with fresh, vibrant fruits and vegetables.

The restaurant will also serve some light baked goods, like zucchini bread and oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies, as well as fruit and herb drinks.

Knowing that the neighborhoods surrounding Lexington Market are food deserts, or areas where quality, affordable fresh food is difficult to buy, Holloway wants to educate customers on how to eat healthy. She plans to hand out shopping lists to customers and hold food demonstrations to show them how to prepare nutritious and tasty meals.

“We all have the right to eat healthy, it’s just knowing how to do it,” Holloway said.

Black Acres Grill

This roastery grew out of founder Travis Bell’s need for more convenient coffee shops in Highlandtown. He didn’t want to open a shop to sell other roasters’ coffee, he wanted to sell his own.

After traveling to Minnesota to take roasting courses, Bell fell in love with the process and launched Black Acres Roastery in 2018.

Today, the roastery operates out of Highlandtown and sells its coffee at Remington’s food hall, R. House, as well as local establishments like Teavolve, Plantbar and Good Neighbor.

Black Acres Roastery purposefully uses direct trade to source their coffee beans, ensuring farmers are properly compensated for the quality of their beans, and Bell recently traveled to Colombia to build a relationship with local growers and farmers.

At Lexington Market, the roastery will offer drip coffee, nitro cold brew, nitro tea, single origin teas, and signature coffee and espresso beverages.

“We try to present our coffee in a way that anyone can drink it. We’re not strictly attached to whether it’s black coffee or sugary,” Bell said. “We tried to make it presentable for all types of drinkers.”

sunny side cafe

Baltimore natives Charles Miller and Kristian Knight-Miller are the husband-and-wife team behind this nostalgic brunch spot. Sunnyside Cafe operated from its physical location on East Monument Street until an electrical fire forced them to close the restaurant last fall.

At the time, the couple only had seven months left on their lease and their homeowners insurance had just expired.

Despite the financial and emotional setbacks caused by the event, the Millers were confident that they would be blessed with greater opportunity in the future.

Since the fire, Sunnyside Cafe has been temporarily operating out of a convenience store in Mount Vernon, and has grown an even larger customer base strictly by word of mouth.

Rather than apply for a position in the new Lexington Market building, Sunnyside Cafe was sought out by the market after a friend of the Millers encouraged the team to try the couple’s food.

When a couple of team members visited the location, the Millers had no idea they were from Lexington Market.

“I always wanted my food to do the talking before I did the talking, and that’s what I saw my food do when it arrived and gave us the opportunity to be tenants at Lexington Market,” Knight-Miller said.

Sunnyside Cafe’s menu puts a spin on familiar childhood favorites, and the food is homemade from recipes that have been passed down from members of the Miller family. It features items including Cap’n Crunch French Toast, Chicken and Waffles, Catfish and Grits with Hot Honey Sauce, Fries with Crab Sauce, and a Turkey Burger with Shrimp and Spinach.

Knight-Miller said she’s all smiles about the upcoming opening of the new market building and can’t wait for customers to try her food.

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