Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Keeping it positive and inclusive at Remington’s sweet spot

By Robyn Githui

Sweet 27 has been a staple in the Remington neighborhood for over eight years. When I arrived at the café on West 27th Street, the bright orange and yellow exterior stood out in this otherwise residential area. Over the years, the funky exterior colors have changed, but the overall atmosphere has not. Although Sweet 27 is mainly known for its eclectic, gluten-free menu, its employee-friendly practices and community-first philosophy also set it apart.

Sweet 27’s dedication to employees and community is a reflection of its history. Sweet 27 started out as Meet 27 under former owner Richard D’Souza, who started the restaurant, as well as an adjoining bakery/café that share’s the restaurant’s name, to help meet the needs of people with dietary restrictions. All of the food is gluten-free, and many items on the menu are soy and dairy-free as well, making it one of the most diet-inclusive establishments in the city.

When I first met Suraj Bhatt, the current owner of Sweet 27, he was warm, welcoming, and in the midst of running the business’ day-to-day operations. When Bhatt first started working as a cashier at Sweet 27, he did not know that he would become a partner and eventual owner of one of Baltimore’s most interesting restaurants in less than a decade. Like D’Souza, Bhatt allows his employees to try and take on different roles in the business, like one server who is learning how to do some of the managerial work. He also encourages his workers to perfect their skills outside of work, through school and nearby English classes at Strong City Baltimore’s Adult Learning Center. Following in D’Souza’s footsteps, Bhatt supports his employees by giving them the time and opportunities to grow. He understands that many of his employees won’t work with him forever, and that is OK. Bhatt’s employee-friendly business model has attracted a lot of attention, and Sweet 27 will be recognized in Civic Works’ upcoming Good Business Works initiative, which highlights local businesses for their commitment to high-quality workforce practices.

During my time at the café, Bhatt greeted all of the customers who came in and expressed an enormous amount of gratitude for the Remington community, which he credits for the establishment’s success. Sweet 27 is known for its easygoing atmosphere, but it has gone through its share of challenges, including the change in ownership. Despite this, Bhatt focuses on positivity and insists that “Everything goes in a circle.” The customers and employees support Sweet 27, so Sweet 27 supports and helps uplift them. It’s mutually beneficial, and everyone benefits from their place in the community.

Sweet 27 supports its community in a couple of ways. Sweet 27 hosts fundraisers as a fun way to help people and build community. (It has hosted Strong City Baltimore fundraisers in the past, including a recent one to benefit the 29th Street Community Center.) It’s not always easy for smaller, local businesses to donate money, but Bhatt recognizes that the community fuels his business and that it is important to give back in some way. Anyone is welcome to inquire about having a fundraiser at the eatery.

Another way that Sweet 27 supports its community is by championing cultural awareness and inclusivity, through its menu and its values. Last year, Sweet 27, along with a few other Baltimore-area restaurants, participated in “A Day Without Immigrants.”  The day was a part of the broader movement demanding fair and inclusive immigration policies. The decision to close was a collective one. Many of Sweet 27’s employees and customers are immigrants, and they were inspired to participate as a way to show solidarity and support for immigrant rights.

Strong City Baltimore’s neighborhood work embraces community wealth building, an approach to economic development that puts residents and communities first, valuing equity, inclusion, and sustainability. One way that that we support community wealth building in Baltimore is by spotlighting exemplary businesses that are making their communities better. For more information about Strong City’s community wealth building philosophy, click here.

Sponsor Spotlight: Eddie’s Market of Charles Village


JerryEddie’s Market Charles Village located on the 3100 block of St. Paul street has been serving the Charles Village community for decades. Owner Jerry Gordon is a long time friend of GHCC and a fixture of the north Baltimore neighborhood.
Photo Credit: BMore Media 

Tell us a bit of the Eddie’s story, how did you end up on St. Paul street, becoming such a fixture of the neighborhood?

Many years ago when FDR was President, a man named Eddie Levy opened a grocery store and named it, surprise, Eddie’s Supermarket. He was successful and opened a second store. These stores were not like the super stores of today but more like neighborhood stores. Eddie’s franchise idea was a hit. At the height of the chain’s success, there were 26 Eddie’s Supermarkets in and around Baltimore. Jerry Gordon, the current owner, took over the management of Eddie’s on St. Paul on October 30, 1980.

What separates Eddie’s from other grocery stores is that we develop a close relationship with the students and neighbors from the area.  We especially cater our product to the needs of the community, which is something a super-market cannot do.

You have been a long time supporter of Greater Homewood, why do you think the work we do is so important?

I believe GHCC is so important because they reach out and improve so many facets of life here in the Greater Homewood area. GHCC also has our support because Karen Stokes really went to bat for Eddie’s Market last year when there were serious talks about putting a large grocery store in Charles Village.

What do you love about being located in Charles Village?

I love the people and the relationships I have established. There are so many eddiesintelligent and interesting people in the area. You really never know who will walk in the door! In particular, I enjoy having conversations with the college students from Johns Hopkins. It helps keep me young!

What is the biggest improvement you have seen to the St. Paul street corridor?

The biggest improvement I have seen was when the Streuver brothers tore down the 3200 block and replaced it with the Barnes and Noble. This put us on the map and really was a catalyst for further expansion and development in the area.

Do you have any new or exciting things happening at the store?

We recently redid the entire produce department with new shelving and organic foods. One of the best things about Eddie’s is that we have such a variety of product at a reasonable price.  Customers may be surprised with some of the interesting and exciting products they can find!

Eddie’s Market Charles Village is open Mon – Sat 7am – 9pm, Sun 8am – 6pm
For more information order to place an order online:

Neighborhood Institute Sponsor Spotlight: CVCA


cvcaSandy Sparks is the president of the Charles Village Civic Association. A long time resident of the area and advocate for the community, we were excited to spend some time talking about Charles Village and Greater Homewood with her. 

Tell us a little bit about CVCA-what is it you do exactly?

The primary focus of CVCA is to promote and strengthen Charles Village. Among the chief focuses of the organization are land use and zoning issues. The CVCA has fantastic continuity, as it has been around since the late 1960’s.

How is CVCA different from the Charles Village Community Benefits District (CVCBD)?

CVCA is very distinct! CVCBD is in many ways its own creation- they are established by state law, wheras CVCA is a neighborhood community association. The entire mission of CVCBD (Safe & Clean) differs. Besides the scope and intentions, the levels of marketing and promotion also differ.

What do you love most about being located in Greater Homewood?

There are a number of things! The diversity of the area continues to be a very appealing feature. There are many resources for improvement and opportunities to use them creatively. The area continues to improve so it is a joy to witness.

What prompted you to become a sponsor of GHCC?

I have been involved with GHCC since the 1980’s. During the 1980’s I served on the GHCC board so I am very familiar with the organization’s mission and goals.  As a homeowner you become increasingly invested in your community, and GHCC is an organization that really advocates for the area.

What is CVCA’s proudest accomplishment in years?

Among the greatest accomplishments are the “Charles Street Master Plan” and the Charles Street construction. I am also proud of CVCA’s involvement in bringing in new business’ and our continued support for local schools.

Jump for Joy at the 29th Street Community Center

IMG_4026The 29th Street Community Center is incredibly privileged to have Charles Village resident Kim Landes as a program provider and leader of Jump for Joy. She brings energy, determination, and joy to kids and adults alike.

Jump for Joy is much more than a jump roping program, it’s a joyous story about community. It all began when Kim Landes, a Charles Village resident, got a knock on her door one sunny summer’s afternoon last year. Who was at the door? Four Barclay Elementary students who were selling canned goods to make money for after school snacks. Kim offered them a snack and got to know a bit about them on her front porch. After a few weeks of the students returning to her house, Kim decided to do something constructive and bought some jump ropes for them to play with. Before she knew it there was a full blow jump roping club happening at her house.

Recognizing how excited these kids were about jumping rope, Kim set out to find a jump rope club to connect them with. Though she couldn’t find anything in Baltimore, Kim discovered Kangaroo Kids in Ellicot City, a competition jump rope club for kids age 5-18 which has been serving Howard County for 35 years. After learning more about the program in Howard County, Kim decided to start one of her own right in her neighborhood.IMG_3984

As the program took off, Kim and her students needed a space to build a team. Though she didn’t know much about the 29th Street Community Center, the Barclay students had spent time there after school and told her about its great space. It didn’t take long for Kim to connect with center director Hannah Gardi, and the two of them began to work together to create Jump for Joy: an innovative jump roping program that teaches leadership skills and nurtures self esteem.

IMG_4092Jump for Joy meets on Saturdays from 11-12pm and has already served more than a dozen kids. We have volunteers from JHU and Kangaroo Kids that come out each week to work with our jumpers. This last weekend, seven jumpers participated in a tri-state jump rope festival hosted by the Kangaroo Kids. Man, oh, man, were our kids inspired! Watching kids of all ages perform jumps, flips, and spins at advanced levels has moved them to learn more and keep on training.

The spring programming season at the 29th Street Community Center starts on Monday. Click here to see a full list of classes and to register.

Neighborhood Institute Sponsor Spotlight – Donna’s Charles Village

Donna’s Charles Village got this year’s Neighborhood Institute off to a great start with hot coffee and an array of delicious baked goods. Thank you again for your support. 

BVC2Yi_CMAAUh0ATell us a bit about Donna’s, how long have you been in Charles Village and how did you come to be in this neighborhood?

Donna’s has been around since 2001. The flagship location was located in Mt. Vernon but it has since expanded to locations like Charles Village. Around the time of its inception, it was not easy for people in Baltimore to get good coffee, bread, or natural foods. The woman who started Donnas’s visited Italy and saw all of the great food and drink they had available. It became her vision to bring those same things to Baltimore.

What do you love about being located in the Greater Homewood area?

The sense of community in Greater Homewood is incredible. The majority of people I work with are my neighbors, and we all walk to work together. There are many customers we know by name, which adds to the sense of community. Donna’s maintains a close and friendly relationship with the other businesses close by. When in need, the local businesses all support each other (borrowing food and supplies). This type of friendly atmosphere among direct competitors is rare.

Why is it important to you to support the work that Greater Homewood is doing and sponsor the Neighborhood Institute?

We have a spoken rule at Donna’s- we only donate and support organizations that work in the neighborhood. After doing some research we found that GHCC’s mission and program were completely in line with our own values. We feel that there needs to be organizations that support those in the community in need. GHCC is that kind of place.

We know that you have a few different locations, what is special about the Charles Village restaurant?

What is unique about the Charles Village restaurant is the bond between customers and employees (all neighbors). Customers feel like they are having dinner with family and friends. Chef Andy Thomas has been in the area for twenty years, and has many connections throughout the community.  This close relationship allows Donna’s to provide the people in the neighborhood just what they are looking for.

Do you have any exciting new menu items coming in the spring and summer?

During the summer, Donna’s uses local produce to create seasonal favorites like Cherry Tomato Salad, Watermelon Salad, and Stuffed Squash. Donna’s is the type of restaurant that remains affordable while providing high quality local food. Donna’s has brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and specials most days of the week, including $3 tacos on Tuesdays. Come check it out!

For More Information on Donna’s –