By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
The Transform Lexington Market project has been underway since 2019, and soon, the new South Market and open-air, urban plaza will be open to the public. The revitalized space is set to open its doors this fall, and a community meeting to discuss the programming, arts and future uses of the market’s spaces is already scheduled for November.
Since the commencement of the $45 million-project, the Transform Lexington Market team intentionally engaged residents and businesses across the city to participate in the building’s development. They have also pledged from the beginning that the new market would better reflect the diversity of the City of Baltimore by increasing the representation of Black-owned, women-owned and city resident-owned buildings.
The Transform Lexington Market team, with the help of Baltimore Corps, created a two-step vendor selection process that included a first look from over 30 community reviewers and a final interview and decision phase led by a diverse selection committee comprising 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.
For chef and visionary Tselane-Danielle Holloway, securing a spot in Lexington Market’s new building has been a dream come true.
When she was a young adult, all of her friends couldn’t wait to grab an after-school treat from Lexington Market. While walking past the stalls of the entrepreneur chefs, she’d wish to have a business of her own in the historic market one day. Finally, that day is within reach.
Tossed Together is a fast, casual salad and soup concept, and Holloway is on a mission to show customers that eating healthy does not have to be boring, tasteless or expensive. She knows people eat with their eyes so every salad and soup is packed with fresh, vibrant fruits and vegetables.
The restaurant will also be serving up some light baked goods, like zucchini bread and oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate chips, as well as herbal and fruit drinks.
Knowing that the neighborhoods surrounding Lexington Market are food deserts, or areas where it’s difficult to buy affordable, quality fresh food, Holloway wants to educate customers on how to eat healthy. She plans to pass out grocery lists to customers and hold food demonstrations to show them how to make nutritious, tasty meals.
“We all have the right to eat healthy, it’s just knowing how to do it,” said Holloway.
Black Acres Roastery
This roastery originated out of founder Travis Bell’s need for more convenient coffee shops in Highlandtown. He didn’t want to start 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.
Currently the roastery operates out of Highlandtown and sells its coffee in Remington’s food hall, R. House, as well as in local joints like Teavolve, Plantbar and good neighbor.
Black Acres Roastery purposefully uses direct trade to source its coffee beans, ensuring farmers are properly compensated for the quality of their beans, and Bell recently traveled to Colombia to establish a relationship with local producers and farmers there.
In Lexington Market, the roastery will offer drip coffee, nitro cold brew, nitro tea, single-origin teas and signature espresso and coffee drinks.
“We try to present our coffee in a way that anyone can drink it. We’re not strictly stuck on it being Black coffee or it being sugary,” said Bell. “We try to make it presentable for all types of drinkers.”
Baltimore natives Charles Miller and Kristian Knight-Miller are the husband and wife team behind this nostalgic brunch spot. Sunnyside Cafe operated out of its brick-and-mortar 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 remaining on their lease, and their property insurance had just expired.
Despite the financial and emotional setbacks caused by the event, the Millers trusted that they would be blessed with a greater opportunity in the future.
Since the fire, Sunnyside Cafe has been temporarily operating out of a convenience store in Mount Vernon, and its grown an even bigger customer base strictly through word of mouth.
Rather than apply for a stall in Lexington Market’s new 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 members of the team visited the spot, the Millers had no idea that they were from Lexington Market.
“I’ve always wanted my food to speak volumes before I speak volumes, and that’s what I saw my food do when they came in and gave us the opportunity to be tenants in Lexington Market,” said Knight-Miller.
Sunnyside Cafe’s menu puts its twist on familiar childhood favorites, and the food is homemade from recipes that have been passed down by the Millers’ family members. It features items including Cap’n Crunch french toast, chicken and waffles, catfish and grits with a hot honey sauce, crab dip fries and a shrimp and spinach turkey burger.
Knight-Miller said she’s all smiles about the upcoming opening of the new market building, and she can’t wait for customers to taste her food.
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