Making rolls for Thanksgiving

30 Photos

Photos and text by Barbara Haddock Taylor

James W. Hamlin, who grew up in the Druid Heights neighborhood, wanted to bring people back to Baltimore’s historic Pennsylvania Avenue. He hoped to provide the community with a valuable service and offer a unique product to entice visitors.

The result is The Avenue Bakery, which opened in the summer of 2011. The bakery makes cakes, pies, muffins, cookies, croissants and cobblers. By Thanksgiving of that year, word was out that the Avenue’s signature item, “Poppay’s” dinner rolls, were something unique. The rolls, which Mr. Hamlin has been making for around 20 years, were named by his granddaughter Bria.

Poppay’s rolls at Thanksgiving have quickly become a tradition for many Baltimore area families. They draw people from Virginia and Pennsylvania as well. Customers place orders well in advance, but the bakery also makes dozens more available on a first-come, first serve basis on the day before Thanksgiving.

Mr. Hamlin and his family and friends baked around 400 dozen rolls this week, working around the clock since Monday night. Jules Howie, a regular customer, picked up her rolls on Wednesday afternoon and said the bakery is “a treasure, a beacon of light in the community.”