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February 28, 2010

Zeke's Coffee opens cafe

Zeke's coffeeZeke's coffee, the Lauraville coffee roaster, has branched out into the cafe business.

Zeke's opened its cafe Friday at 4607 Harford Road, just 0.2 miles north of its production facility on Montebello Terrace. Zeke's continues to roast its coffee at the old spot but you have to got to the new location now to buy beans to go.

The 20-seat cafe is in a 1920s-era building that once served as a tin-ceiling showroom, so the ceiling and walls are completely covered with the stuff, said Todd Brizzi of Zeke's. (I'd asked him his job title and he said "worker bee."

The cafe has been casting about for a celebrity endorser. A few suggestions posted on Zeke's Facebook site: John Waters, Duff Goldman and Sheila Dixon.

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 11:30 AM | | Comments (41)
        

Comments

For location and continuity, this is the former Grindon Cafe, previously discussed here. Earnest owner gave up after crimes, bad neighbors, city failure to move a troublesome bus stop. He hoped to relocate up Harford Rd, any recent news? Also, Zeke's said they will not have food in deference to nearby clients like Red Canoe, which has expanded.

crimes, bad neighbors, ... a troublesome bus stop.

Sounds lovely. They should make that their motto.

I know that café means coffee in French, but who ever heard of a café without food? Even in France. Maybe RoCK can explain some free market principles to the owners. Competition benefits the consumer.

Sheila Dixon as a celebrity endorser? The password is ... cash.

Normally, producers don't compete directly with their retail customers. That is why outlet stores are so out of the way. Perhaps Zeke's should open up a store in Reading or Hagerstown.

What a pity to see such negative postings right off the bat -- some people just love to vote for failure, I guess.

The GrindOn Cafe closed because of massive personal difficulties faced by the owner. It was sad to see it go: so many in our community had found a great 'fit' in the little cafe and frequented it often, and others came from farther away to enjoy its good coffee (Zeke's!) and surroundings. I assume other people are as delighted as I am that the cafe has been reopened and hope it fares well. (Perhaps little treats -- pastries and maybe simple bagels with butter or jam -- will prove possible with time!)

Please don't let the sour-pusses and their repetition of vague rumors keep you away!

RoCK, what is perplexing is that the producer is going to compete with potential retailers of coffee, but not on food, which would be a totally different market situation and a level playing field.

I don't think outlet stores are located near actual producing factories anymore. Do they still exit? (either)

I'm imagining a bleak room full of tweeking coffee-verts chugging demon java, donutless, bellyful of empty, grasping the tables for dear life in a pre-psychotic Lord of the Flies frenzy. Piggy! Kill Piggy! For the love of Beelzebub get me a freakin' scone!!!

I find it hard to believe that a cafe wouldn't have food, even if it was only delicious Lancer's snack crackers. Mmmm... kick back and enjoy a cup of Joe and a Toastchee®, Nip Chee®, or Captain’s Wafer®.

Lance® – Love the little things

Go to your happy place, Piglet.

Hi this is Ryan. I work for Zeke's Coffee. Let me say that again...Zeke's Coffee, not Zeke's Cafe. I would like to make a suggestion to the all the people who have posted prior to mine. Before you decide on what Zeke's Coffee is not serving maybe you should get off your computer and check the place out, it’s a neat place where you can try different coffees in different brewing methods. I like to think of it as a coffee lab, a place where you can come and learn about the different coffees and the ways to prepare them. We do serve some food; we have a small selection of delicious pastries. You should not judge something before you try it out yourself.

www.zekescoffee.net

Ryan said it best go before you judge.....

Now we know, Thanks, Ryan. Coffee without pastries? That's just crazy talk.

I don't think anyone was judging, just speculating based upon (incorrect) info from a commenter and a general lack of details. All fixed.

The info posted was direct from the Grindon owner and the Zeke's guys at the farmers market. I hope they do well, but I hope the cops and city are there for them, a main issue for the Grindon guy according to him. Maybe with their higher profile they will get the help they need. We all need nice places to eat and caffeinate.

Thrilled to have Zeke's in the space! Can't wait to check it out.

Remember folks, this is basically a new retail spot for Zeke's, replacing the one on Montebello (where they'll still be brewing).

It was a real shame watching the Grind On go down; Levanah is absolutely right. The reasons it closed had much much less to do with the things that chowsearch mentioned - those of us in the neighborhood who used to frequent the joint know what I'm talking about.

Levanah is correct. It was not the neighborhood that forced the closure of Grind On, rather it was the issues with the owner. And Levanah put it much nicer than I would have. Don't believe any stories from directly from the owner's mouth about the area, or lack of support... some people can't tell the truth due to their own problems.

Zeke's will do well, and I have no doubt they won't face any issues with the location. I'm so happy they've taken over the location

Happily stopped by Zeke's on my way home for a cup of coffee and some dessert (3 chocolate rugulas and a chocolate croissant). They do indeed have a lovely selection of pastries. For me, no competition with Red Canoe - I don't get home from work until 5pm or later, and Red Canoe is closed then. And I'll certainly continue going to Red Canoe on weekends.

The Zeke's guy said one idea was to have Red Canoe be a pastry/muffin supplier.

I was very sorry to hear of the problems that Greg, former owner of Grind On, was experiencing and that the cafe was closing. While I was glad, initially, that Zeke's was taking over, upon visiting there yesterday, I was dismayed at the limited selection of food, and no bagels. Grind On had my favourite bagels. I'm a little put off by the owner's attiude, honestly. I understand that they want to make this venture their own vision, but while I was lamenting the void felt as a result of Gind On's absence, the owner seemed very keen to reinerate that Zekes' would NOT be like Gind On, even if that's what the people want.

I want to preface this comment by saying that, although I have known the owner of Zeke's Coffee for over ten years, I am not now nor have I ever been employed by the company.

Kathleen wrote: "I'm a little put off by the owner's attiude, honestly. I understand that they want to make this venture their own vision, but while I was lamenting the void felt as a result of Gind On's absence, the owner seemed very keen to reinerate that Zekes' would NOT be like Gind On, even if that's what the people want."

Your spelling lapses aside, Grind On failed, so why would you expect someone else to move into the space and follow the same business plan? Who could blame the owner for having an attitude when you walk in and tell him how to run his business?

If you and the rest of "the people" miss Grind On so much, find a space (there are plenty in the area) and start your own business.

First of all, pgp, your comment on spelling lapses is unfounded and generic. My spelling is that of the Motherland, not the bastardised version of English popularised over here. Secondly, Grind On failed, but not because people didn't like the general idea or execution of the cafe. My point (and I apologise that it was lost on you, the queerest things happen to those with feeble minds), was that there is something to be said for responding in an unprofessional manner to what would otherwise have been devoted carry-over customers.

Kathleen, if you read your post again, you'll find that pgp's comment was not, in fact, unfounded.

Feeble is as feeble does.

Kathleen wrote: "First of all, pgp, your comment on spelling lapses is unfounded and generic. My spelling is that of the Motherland, not the bastardised version of English popularised over here."

Kathleen, Please define the words "reinerate" and "Gind" from your original post; if that is their correct spelling in your
"Motherland".

Also, you don't know me, so there's no need in using unpleasant epithets in your posts. As I said, I know them fairly well, so I can easily see how your advice might have rubbed the folks at Zeke's the wrong way.

Captcha: "holding unkindly" Enough said!

Gind on, Kathleen, gind on.

Bastardized? Given that spelling has changed much in England since America was founded, your logic suggests that your mother is a bastard. :-)

Sláinte!

Wel, it seems I've been "served." Its always dangerous trying to be sarcastic or convey a sort of implied tone when typing, and obviously I failed. That said, my original point was simply stating that I enjoyed the bagels and soups at GRIND ON and the new owner's response was quite brisk, and it just seemed unnecessary.

Wel, it seems I've been "served." Its always dangerous trying to be sarcastic or convey a certain tone when typing, and obviously I failed. That said, my original point was simply stating that I enjoyed the bagels and soups at GRIND ON and the new owner's response was quite brisk, and it just seemed unnecessary.

I buy Zeke's weekly, both beans and brewed coffee when the JFX Farmer's Market is open although I've never been to either of the stores. The owner and the people who work there are some of the nicest at any retail establishment around, and the coffee is great. I'm a Zeke's loyalist for life.

Think I'll throw a little fat on the fire. The eye-burning, acidic smell emanating from Zeke's--presumably when he's roasting beans--is just NASTY! I'll never buy Zeke's coffee because of that smell. Discuss.

Ah yes, the Stink. It's driven me off Red Canoe's lovely back porch area before.

Gee, Dottie, I'll discuss that. How about we discuss how you shouldn't drink any coffee not just Zeke's. Any coffee you consume, unless it's instant coffee(but is that really even coffee? no), has to be roasted. The roasting process is what makes the coffee a consumable product. So logically you should not even drink coffee. Have you ever smelled the factories where dog food is made? That's a terrible smell. Would you deny your dog his food cause of a smell? Seems kind of dumb.

Also, for all of you who keep talking about the Grind-On. It's gone, not coming back. Would you walk in to a Burger King that used to be a McDonald's and ask them for a Big Mac? No, that would be absurd. The Grind-On is gone, you want a bagel? Go to New York City, they've got plenty of awesome bagels there. This is Baltimore, not too well known for their bagels now are we?

And Arthur, let's not forget the torture that those poor innocent beans go through in the roasting process.

Ewell, at least Zeke's uses only cage-free beans.

[Late, as in the late Dent]Arthur Dent - well-put.

Yes, but what about the poor exploited workers who pick the beans for 10¢ a day. Rise up Juan Valdez!

Oh, they're cage-free as well. So win-win.

WARNING: I CAN NOT SPELL AND I HATE PUNCTUATION! IN ADDITION I TOO HAVE NEVER BEEN EMPLOYED BY THE ZEKE'S COMPANY.

Since any and every one gives their opinion, I will throw my 1 cent in too!

JUST FOR THE RECORED. . .I LOVE THE SMELL FROM ZEKE'S ROASTING FACILITY! I wish the Zeke's crew and family the best of luck. I can only hope that with all the vacant space on our designated main streets in Baltimore have more families start their own stores and employee our city residents/ neighbors and friends!

yo, me, put down the caps lock and walk slowly away from the keyboard. :-)

Kathleen, in case you didn't know, before Grind On, the space hosted Bryan's Finds and Designs.

So:

I was very sorry to hear of the problems that Bryan, former owner of Bryan's Finds and Designs, was experiencing and that the store was closing. While I was glad, initially, that Grind On was taking over, upon visiting there yesterday, I was dismayed at the limited selection of mannequins, and no antiques. Bryan's Finds and Designs had my favourite antiques. I'm a little put off by the owner's attiude, honestly. I understand that they want to make this venture their own vision, but while I was lamenting the void felt as a result of Bryan's Finds and Designs' absence, the owner seemed very keen to reinerate that Grind On would NOT be like Bryan's Finds and Designs, even if that's what the people want.

I had the best cup of coffee there yesterday. A single cup of Dark and Stormy. I recommend you savor it in a real cup. The espresso was also perfect and buttery. They were still waiting for espresso cups to arrive, but it was tasty even in the togo cup. They have a nice selection of decent pastries too.

I meant to say "Tell Tale Dark" in that last post...

This is actually a nice place and the coffee is terrific.

Right on, Sean! I LOVED looking at Bryan's wares displayed on the sidewalk outside the store, especially before Christmas. It was a veritable kaleidoscope of color and texture!

Puh-leeze Arthur, hating the smell of Zeke's roasting beans doesn't mean I don't enjoy coffee; as a matter of fact, I do. FYI, there's a coffee company in Old Town near the Viaduct, and the smell of their roasting coffee beans is most pleasant -- nothing at all like Zeke's. Perhaps Zeke's should place a signboard on Harford Road announcing that it's roasting beans so I'll know just to keep on drivin'.

Michael, FYI, Atwater's makes a dark, delicious, ginger-y spicy cake called "Dark and Stormy." They also make a light lemon-y cake called (I think) "Light and Sunny." Enjoy.

Dottie is right about Atwater's bakery goods. These also come in miniature sizes so you can have one of each!

Captcha says if you have more than one: it rounder

The banding and logo for Zekes coffee, I really like. The overall feel of it speaks good coffee and friendly service. Thanks for the post.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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