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Owners of Peace a Pizza to add on a dessert shop

Pizza and ice cream is a combination enjoyed by just about everyone — especially kids.

Later this month, customers of Peace a Pizza will have a dessert option close by after eating a slice of pizza at the restaurant on Mellor Avenue.

The business is currently undergoing an expansion that will add a 1,700-square-foot dessert shop called Babas to the rear of the restaurant. Babas is expected to be up and running Tuesday, Aug. 19.

The shop will offer ice cream, cookies, brownies, cakes and other sugar-laden treats.

Peace a Pizza and Babas are managed and co-owned by 26-year-old entrepreneur Sally Grace.

As a family-owned restaurant, the new dessert shop is named to honor the Grace family's Polish heritage.

The term "baba" is Polish for grandmother, and was chosen to pay homage to her mother and grandmother, Sally Grace said.

"My mother was Baba — it's a huge term of endearment," said Terri Grace, 57, Sally's mother.

"She was a very hands-on grandmother ... my kids just loved her to death," Terri said of her mother, who passed away in 2000.

Terri said she tears up every time she walks into the space, currently under construction, which reminds her of her mother.

Hershey's ice cream, homemade cookies, cakes and other treats will be sold from behind a counter in the newly renovated space.

Cookies will be freshly baked by Terri, who said she will bake sugar cookies, cookie bars such as brownies and a rotation of cakes.

Many of the recipes she will use at the shop have been passed down from her 'baba', who enjoyed baking.

"We're good bakers in my family," Terri said.

Sally Grace said the tie-dye-themed franchise restaurant currently sells 12 to 13 dozen cookies each day. To accommodate that demand and provide her customers with additional desserts, she felt the expansion was a good solution.

"I've always wanted to do an ice cream place," she said, taking a rare break from her busy work day to talk. "I thought it was such a good fit with pizza, especially because it's a family friendly restaurant."

"So many people come up to me and say they can't bring their kids anywhere else," Grace said.

They will serve 40 flavors of Hershey's brand ice cream, including chocolate, vanilla, lowfat blueberry cheesecake, birthday cake, crazy vanilla, banana pudding, deep dish apple pie and peanut butter twist (which will be separated from the others for those with peanut allergies).

The ice cream cookie sandwiches currently pre-made and sold by the restaurant will now be customized and made to order, Sally Grace said.

Grace opened the restaurant four years ago and has been working 80 hours a week to ensure the success of her first business. She manages 35 full- and part-time employees and spends the majority of her time at the restaurant.

She was recently named Outstanding Young Entrepreneur by Baltimore County in June for her impact on commercial revitalization and was named Business Person of the Year by the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce last year.

But building a profitable business hasn't been easy. At the beginning, it was difficult because a lot of people didn't take her seriously due to her age and youthful appearance, she said.

"I think now that we've been here for so long and people know that it's mine ... they're more welcoming," she said.

The new space, which connects with the pizza restaurant, will provide an additional 40 seats — something the busy restaurant also desperately needed.

Grace said she has seen customers walk out because they can't find a place to sit. Now, she hopes to retain those customers with extra seating.

"If you order here and there's not an empty seat, you can absolutely take a seat next door — that's what I envision and what I want to happen," she said, seated in the current dining area of the restaurant.

With the new dessert cafe, Grace expects customers seeking dessert after dinner will stay at her business rather than traveling to other ice cream places in the area, she said.

Although she hasn't ruled out further expansion, she doesn't foresee it any time soon.

"I definitely have my hands full with Peace A Pizza, and now Babas, so I don't think that it would be any time in the near future," Grace said.

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