Why do you volunteer your time specifically with this organization?
In January of last year, I met with Rabbi Burg of Beth Am Synagogue to tell him that I wanted to do volunteer work for the Synagogue and the Reservoir Hill community. He introduced me to the owners of Dovecote Café at 2501 Madison Avenue. This was a minority-owned business, run by two women originally hailing from Oakland, California. I simply asked the women, “What is your zoning?” and they didn’t know. I checked it out, and they were zoned as a deli and had to close by 3 p.m. What a hindrance to their business! I asked if they would like to change their zoning rules. Would you like to have outdoor seating and have a later closing time? They said yes. I said, I am going to represent you pro bono if you are interested, and they were. At the end of May 2016, I went to the zoning board and they were approved to be a restaurant (instead of a deli), and were allowed to remain open until 11pm and have outdoor seating.
Does this organization affect Baltimore as a whole?
It has been a huge community business success in Reservoir Hill; the original cook was the mother of one of the owners (who only comes on special occasions now, and is “retired”). The place is always full of people on their laptops, enjoying the company and has great food. In the spring and summer, they stay open until 7 p.m.; in the winter they close earlier.
What is your favorite memory of working with this organization?
They have local artists displayed, they don’t keep any of the money when they are sold. They have a partnership with grocery stores that bring their nearly expired produce into the store every day around 5 p.m., and people come in and they give it away for free.
If you could do one thing to change the organization for the better, what would it be?
I think helping them become zoned properly changed the organization for the better and made Dovecote a better community gathering place.