For the past year The Avenue Bakery has been adding a little flavor to the mix of businesses that line Pennsylvania Avenue.
A historic corridor of Black life in the city, the avenue celebrated on Aug. 15 as baker James W. “Jim” Hamlin counted his 365th day in operation along with community leaders, residents of the area, and family.
Customers lined up outside of the store, located at 2229 Pennsylvania Avenue, to get samplings of bread pudding, tarts, and of course, Poppay’s Famous Rolls.
"It's all about revitalizing Pennsylvania Avenue," said Hamlin, whose year in business was predated by 25 years as the acting family baker.
"It has been well received by a community that has not had a community bakery in 50 years," said spokeswoman Caprece Jackson-Garrett. “I'm delighted to say that during this first year, Jim and his family have sold nearly 430,000 Poppay's Famous Rolls,” said Jackson-Garrett, of the rolls named after the nickname given Hamlin by his grandchildren.
Jackson-Garrett said that many customers like to bring in grandparents and great-grandparents in their 80s who were living in the area during the time periods highlighted on the bakery wall’s timeline.
A jazz band, “The Firm” entertained the crowd and citations were awarded from Councilman Nick Mosby and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.
Artist Simone Gray was also on hand to unveil her mural which features music from Baltimore’s own Cab Calloway, “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House.”
True to the term “family business” the shop is run in part by Hamlin’s wife, Brenda Hamlin, son James Hamlin, Jr., daughter, Belinda Hamlin, and daughter -in-law, Etoy Hamlin, and who help with food preparation and customer service.