Hopkins Store To Be Replaced By Donna's

Owner Learned Lease Not Renewed

Coffee Shop And Cafe To Open In The Fall

April 29, 1997|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

A well-known Charles Village variety store, where generations of Johns Hopkins students and neighborhood residents bought their newspapers and candy bars and picked up bits of local gossip, will close in the next two months and reopen this fall as a Donna's coffee shop and outdoor cafe.

Donna's will replace the Hopkins Store, at the northeast corner of St. Paul and 31st streets, with a restaurant featuring large windows and overhanging awnings.

Hopkins Store owner Barbara Freeman said she learned recently that her lease had not been renewed. She has owned the business for eight years and was first employed at the Hopkins Store 26 years ago.

"I see this place as a little mom-and-pop store. I know most of my customers on a first-name basis. If I move, it will have to be within this same neighborhood," she said.

The store, which opened about 1920 as a neighborhood pharmacy, was one of the first commercial uses in the neighborhood then known as Peabody Heights.

It once had an outdoor penny scales and a busy indoor soda fountain.

The scales and soda fountain disappeared many years ago, as did the pharmacy operation.

"It's a shame this has had to happen. The Hopkins Store is a neighborhood gathering place. I use the Xerox machine there and have my photos developed," said Gene Carson, a resident of the Gilman apartments in the 3000 block of N. Calvert St.

"It's been a resource that has been underestimated and undervalued," Carson said.

Michael Fallon, who lives in the 3000 block of St. Paul St., also expressed misgivings.

"Sure, Donna's is a nice place, but we'll be losing something that cemented the neighborhood together. It's where the beat cop and the mailman met, where you learned the news of what's going on around here," he said.

"I'm not against Donna's," said Manny Velder, who lives across 31st Street from the store, "but I'm not for Barbara leaving."

Karen Beaudouin, a resident of the 2800 block of St. Paul St., is encouraged.

"I hate driving over to Starbucks [in Mount Washington] for a cup of coffee. A new Donna's might just become a nice little neighborhood centerpiece. I don't think the Hopkins Store does that at all. It doesn't unify all the factions in Charles Village," she said.

Alan Hirsch, a co-owner of Donna's restaurants, said he intends to spend "more than $100,000" refurbishing the business space.

"We want to open the windows and install awnings for the outdoor cafe," he said. He also said he is considering applying for a liquor license to sell beer and wine.

The projected arrival of the restaurant to the block brought a different reaction from a neighboring business owner.

"I'm glad that a new and upscale business is moving to the block. I welcome anything that brings new business," said Jerry Gordon of Eddie's Super Market, a grocery store in the same block as the Hopkins Store.

"I worked in the Hopkins Store when I was going to City College. My aunt and uncle owned it then. I was behind the soda fountain," Gordon said.

Pub Date: 4/29/97

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