Dovecote Cafe: A Neighborhood Nesting Place

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Walking into the Dovecote Cafe is like stepping into the future of Baltimore.Once across the threshold of this quaint nesting space, a playlist of classic hip-hop, R&B, and soul music lifts people off their feet, serenades them to the counter, where they are greeted by delightful Diamond, one of the cafe hostesses.

Dovecote Cafe is a connection point for Baltimore’s creatives, academics, grassroots organizers, civic leaders and neighboring citizens of all ages to connect over coffee and conversation.

Strangers become friends. Friends become colleagues or vice versa and by the end of the day, in many cases or by the end of a single conversation, something

great has transpired.

“I feel like we have a great team,” said Aisha Pew, Dovecote’s co-owner and general manager. “I feel like we have some great programs. And I think what we are trying to do is clearly understood and being received with such love–wow, talk about supply in demand.”

“Community first, cafe second,” is the cozy cafe’s mantra. Since the doors opened a year ago, Dovecote has been a hub for community resources and site for outreach initiatives. Every Thursday is food day; people come by to pick up free, fresh produce. Each month a local culinary artist takes over the kitchen, providing patrons with dinner and recipe cards of the night’s menu item to promote healthy eating.

Local writers, independent organic food producers, and visual artists are supported with shelf space and organizations like the Black Pearl Project, a charitable organization dedicated to

strengthening the bonds of sisterhood among inner city youth, and the Black Books Baltimore book club have hosted events there.

A team of self-proclaimed dream makers are responsible for the dream child located in the 2500 block of Madison Avenue in historic Reservoir Hill. “The way that we all converged to Dovecote Cafe is that we shared our feelings, our wants, our dreams with each other,” Dovecote’s management team stated on the company’s website.

“By sharing, freely and openly [with] the people that we trusted and loved, we began to give ourselves permission to believe beyond the present; to believe inthe possibilities of our desires; to believe that we were deserving of our dreams. It allowed the Universe to hear us, and

begin charting a path.”

Meet Cole, another co-owner of the cafe, and Pew’s life partner. Her dream for Dovecote, mirrored her desire to combine a trilogy of passions: food, real estate and community development.

“What I love about all three is the sense of home and place that each evoke,” said Cole, the daddy’s girl,whose young imagination would run wild at the site of vacant homes and

abandoned buildings. For Cole, community development “is about taking a metaphorical band and wrapping it around current neighbors and drawing everyone close. It’s all about conversations and laughter. It’s about parks, bike lanes, bus stops, street light, block parties, an open living room— cooperative engagement,”according to her debut blog post on the

cafe’s website, entitled: “Dinner with

Dad.”

Meet Gilda, Pew’s mother. She is one of the cafe cuisiniers and co-owner. After raising her only child, Gilda thought life was over after retirement,

until she realized that two decades of social work had taken her time energy away from the things she loved. “With my path, mind and schedule clear, off the culinary school I went,”

said Bain-Pew. “Six a.m. classes; kids young enough to be my grandchildren; homework but I kept going. I fancied creating an environment where my customers were as happy as the friends and family members who have eaten around my dining room table.”

Meet Uncle “The Pie Man” Butch, the cafe’s other cuisiniere, culture keeper and Bain-Pew’s brother. He is the team member who keeps a smile on all the ladies’ faces when he stops by with kind words, catchy compliments and a teddy bear demeanor. Uncle Butch is responsible for the Pew Family’s infamous peach upside down cake making the menu. “I can’t believe this place has only been open for a year. It just went from zero to 100 in just six months,” said Uncle Butch.

According to Uncle Butch, Pew has more intelligence and talent than corporate America knew what to do with. Tired of feeling trapped by the luxuries of a successful six-figure salary, Pew cut ties with her paycheck in pursuit of personal freedom.Under Pew’s leadership, the cafe’s business is growing like wildfire. She carries a beautifully subtle spirit that envelops the place in love.Her team feels it, and so do the customers.