“There were grocery stores all over the neighborhood.”
Every time a Highlandtown old-timer has a conversation, this sentence is uttered at least once.
The standard reaction is “Huh,” or “Oh yeah?” but think about it.
The humble corner grocer factors heavily into Baltimore lore. A Czech grocer named William Oktavec painted the screens of his store at the corner of Collington and Ashland avenues with depictions of the fresh produce he sold inside. The art form became a major part of Baltimore folklife, and after fading from the scene for a few decades, is today in the midst of a major resurgence.
As is the privately-owned, neighborhood grocery store.
In Highlandtown, anyway, ttienda-gardeniahey seem to be on every block–Tienda Latina Gardenia, 429 S. Conkling St.; Cinco de Mayo, 417 S. Highland Ave.; the Markets at Highlandtown, 3801 Eastern Ave.; DiPasquale’s Italian Marketplace, 3700 Gough St., and so on.
The lengthy list elicits an astute observation from Amanda Smit-Peters, manager of Highlandtown Main Street, a program of the Southeast Community Development Corp.
“We’re not a food desert,” she says.
Continue reading “Highlandtown emerges as food oasis”