Edward "Eddie" Dopkin, the popular restaurateur who founded and owned Miss Shirley's and co-owned the Classic Catering People, died Saturday at age 61.
Dopkin's dining successes and relationships within the community earned praise Saturday from Baltimoreans who patronized his establishments and who, like the Baltimore Ravens organization, relied on his family's Owings Mills-based catering company.
"My heart aches at hearing the news of Eddie Dopkin's passing," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun. "He has been a constant fixture in the restaurant and catering community of Baltimore for many years and his commitment to the City was unwavering."
In addition to launching the original Miss Shirley's on East Cold Spring Lane in 2005, Dopkin also formerly owned several other restaurants in the in the Keswick and Evergreen neighborhoods along Cold Spring Lane in North Baltimore, including Alonso's, Loco Hombre, S'ghetti Eddies and the Roland Park Bagel Co.
But it is Miss Shirley's, which Dopkin named for a Classic Catering employee, that became his most notable success. Known for rich, Southern-inspired brunch fare, it draws long lines, notable names and national praise. In addition to the Cold Spring Lane restaurant, there are now Miss Shirley's locations in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Annapolis as well as a popular food truck.
His dining career had begun at the Beef Inn, the Pikesville restaurant owned by his parents. Dopkin later owned and operated The Bagel Place, a chain. One site was an early Harborplace tenant, and the franchise ultimately reached as far as Staten Island, according to Dopkin's son, David Dopkin.
As the caterer for the Ravens, Dopkin was a recognizable figure throughout the organization, and was even asked on occasion by players to provide catering for private parties.
"He was a dear friend of the [Ravens] organization," said Bob Eller, the Ravens' vice president of operations. "Not only was he a terrific business partner, he was a fine individual and exactly the type of person you wanted to have a business relationship with."
Dopkin's efforts within the restaurant and catering industry, including a term as board president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, were also praised.
"Eddie was the kind of person who understood the importance of relationships and how they intersect in business, politics and community," said Melvin Thompson, the organization's vice president of government relations. "And he used those relationships to positively impact all three."
Thompson described how Dopkin was able to influence politicians and others.
"They didn't want to say no to Eddie," Thompson said. "Because Eddie never said no."
Dopkin died at Sinai Hospital from complications associated with a rare form of leukemia, known as chronic lyphysitic leukemia.
Funeral services are slated for Monday at 3 p.m. at Sol Levinson and Brothers Funeral Home, 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.
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