Wow, that decade just rolled by! James Hamlin and his Avenue Bakery, on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore, celebrate 10 years this weekend, with a concert on Sunday afternoon. I wrote about the bakery when it opened, and James, who already had become something of a local legend for his pull-apart, cloverleaf dinner rolls — Poppay’s Rolls — kept insisting that, “It’s not about the rolls,” but about being a role model to anyone who dreams of opening a small business. He’s also a role model to anyone who still believes in a Baltimore renaissance, despite the gloomy news about the further decline of the city’s population, out this week from the Census Bureau. Hamlin is also focused on preserving Pennsylvania Avenue’s rich heritage.
Here’s the column I wrote in August 2011, just as the bakery was preparing for its grand opening: “Word got around about James Hamlin’s dinner rolls. A few years ago, a Baltimore sorority invited him to be a guest chef in a charity cookoff. He did what he does best — baked a batch of dinner rolls — and women swooned. At some events, Mr. Hamlin says, women, in particular, express reluctance to eat his rolls, concerned about the carbs. But, he says, once one person partakes, the dominoes fall, and he’s never left a party with leftovers.”
The concert is Sunday, 2-6 pm, at 2229 Pennsylvania Avenue, part of a summer series sponsored by the Royal Theater and Community Heritage Corporation. Try the rolls.