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Eddie's of Roland Park

Elaine Herget is a 67-year-old Roland Park resident who lives by herself. Last year she was nearly bedridden with back problems that prevented her from performing everyday activities like cooking and grocery shopping. But because of her high cholesterol, Herget was wary of ordering meals from delivery places, and she had no family in the area to bring her food. She had no clue what to do until she called Eddie’s of Roland Park.
“I just called them on the phone and they shopped in the store for me,” Herget said. “They’ll not only deliver [the groceries] but I’ve had them put it on the table in the kitchen for me. The service is superb. It really is.”
Superb, like when Eddie’s chefs make a local family’s Christmas dinner each year using the family’s own recipes. Like when customers call the store to request an off-the-wall item and see it on the shelves a few weeks later. Like when customers walk in the store and clerks greet them by name.
The service, selection and quality of foods available at Eddie’s of Roland Park have made the supermarket a prime part of the Baltimore community and a popular spot for area food aficionados.
Despite the large legacy that it carries, Eddie’s is a fairly small store. With less than 10 aisles in the supermarket--each only a fraction of the length of a normal grocery aisle--Eddie's resembles an old-world neighborhood store where community members gather to gossip and get groceries for the week. At Eddie’s, neighbors and friends chat in the aisles and clerks greet customers by name, but the selection is far more diverse than any neighborhood general store. The supermarket is known for the wide variety of foods that it carries- everything from maradol papayas to vegetarian pate.
“From the beginning, specialty foods were our hallmark,” said Eddie’s advertising director Jo Alexander. “Our customers ask for the finest foods in the world, and we try to cater to them.”
Even if that means ordering a specific brand of soy-based cheese sticks or carrying milk in glass bottles. Eddie’s sends employees to gourmet food shows across the country to stay up on new trends in the industry. If a customer requests something that their food hunters have overlooked, Eddie’s will order it for them straight from the supplier.
“[Owner Nancy Cohen] is always in tune with customer requests. If they want something, she’ll make sure they get it,” Alexander said.
This never-say-no philosophy has carried over into Eddie’s “Gourmet to Go” service as well. The supermarket employs classically trained chefs to create meals that are sold ready-to-eat at the deli counter. Items range from cocktail egg rolls to beef wellington, and the chefs will sometimes keep family recipes brought in by customers and rotate them into the general menu. Still, workers say the crab cakes and caesar salad are the most popular choices.
“During a snowstorm, when the rest of the city goes to the supermarket for toilet paper and milk, our customers come in for our crabcakes and salad,” Alexander said.
Getting to Eddie’s during a storm is not a problem for many of its loyal customers, as Alexander says that a majority of them are Roland Park residents who can make the trip by foot.
“We have a lot of customers that shop every day of the week just about,” grocery clerk Bob Miller said. “That’s how we get to know a lot of people by their names and their kids' names. It’s the type of store we have, a friendly store that makes them keep coming back. It’s more or less a neighborhood ritual to shop at Eddie’s supermarket.”
Herget has lived in Roland Park for 26 years, and she says that she’s been shopping at Eddie’s since the day she moved to town. “I wouldn’t say I’m in here less than once a week,” Herget said. “I’m certainly in here every week.”
Eddie’s employees are just as loyal as its customers. Miller has worked for the company for 45 years, managing the store for nearly four decades and introducing his son to the business before cutting his hours as a form of early retirement. Now Miller works part-time as a clerk and his son Steve, who began working at Eddie’s as a grocery bagger at age 13, is the seafood and meat buyer for the store.
Bob Miller says the store has changed a lot since his first day on the job. “We only had three aisles and didn’t do near as much business,” Miller said. “I think we maybe had 11 employees when I started. It was just a small little grocery store at that time.”
According to Eddie’s website, the supermarket has undergone few changes since it was founded in 1944. In 1953, the store was moved from downtown Baltimore to its current location in Roland Park and its name was changed from Victor’s, for original owner Victor Cohen, to Eddie’s. The name change was a result of the store banding together with several other local markets in order to stay in business against pressure from national chains.
Eddie’s did stay in business, and sales grew steadily at its new Roland Park location. The store was so successful that in 1992 Victor’s daughter Nancy Cohen opened a second location on North Charles Street. But the quality and service has always remained the same.
“It’s the quality here that makes us different,” produce clerk Sonny Hamrick said. “It’s not that it’s bad at other places, but it’s the best at Eddie’s.”
In order to show off that quality, Eddie’s will be holding an outdoor grill festival on May 7 and 8. During the festival, the public is invited to sample the food of Eddie’s top chefs, who will be teaching customers how to smoke and grill vegetables, cheeses and meats.
“Its just one of the ways we thank our customers for being so good to us,” Alexander said. “It’s really just a fun, nice event.”

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