Krystal Mack, the owner of Blk // Sugar bakery in R. House, will close her shop Friday as she lays plans for a future independent location.
Mack told customers in a post on Blk // Sugar's Facebook page last week that she plans to close the shop at the Remington food hall to pursue her own space.
"My hope with launching the only 100% woman owned and 100% black business in R. House was to inspire under acknowledged & help bridge the gender/race gap in the business & food," she wrote. "While I have accomplished so much more than I had planned the one thing I failed to do was be a larger part of that EQUITABLE change in our city I want to see."
While R. House helped propel the Blk // Sugar brand, Mack said she didn't feel she was taken as seriously by management as other operators in the food hall.
"I started to feel that I was marketing tool for diversity because you're not respecting me as much as you're respecting other tenants and owners in the space," she said in an interview.
Peter DiPrinzio, general manager of R. House, said in an email he wishes her well and hopes R. House served as a springboard for her business.
"We wish Krystal nothing but the best, and hope that R. House served as a launchpad for her future endeavors," he wrote.
Blk // Sugar shares a stall at R. House with Little Baby's Ice Cream, a Philadelphia-based ice cream maker that plans to stay at the food hall and take over the entire stall, DiPrinzio said.
"They're not going anywhere," he said in an interview.
R. House opened in December and marked the first brick-and-mortar location for Mack. She previously operated KarmaPop Ice Pops and PieCycle, selling her homemade ice pops and baked goods from a roving tricycle.
She said she joined R. House believing that the food hall would become a welcoming place for the community, and made by the community — particularly Remington residents. Over time, she felt R. House priced out many potential customers, she said.
"Hopefully this whole experience — my transparency with it — will make people think a little harder about the changes that are happening in Baltimore," she said, "like who is truly investing in the community and its citizens and who is investing in more like something that sells."
Although her stall at R. House is closing, she said Blk // Sugar will not be gone for good.
"We are just taking a smarter approach and getting out the food court game while planning for the new location," the Facebook post reads, noting customers will still be able to order her treats through UberEats and emails to email@example.com.
The bakery is also launching an online shop soon.
Mack recently piloted a new pop-up shop, Blk // Mkt, at R. House, featuring goods by makers of color. More Blk // Mkt and Blk // Sugar pop-ups are scheduled through November, including one Aug. 20 at Keepers Vintage (229 W. Read St.) and another Oct. 23 at Trohv (921 W. 36th St.).
"At the end of the day you cannot build a business without being in touch with the community," she said. "You can develop and curate all you want, but at the end of the day you have to be in touch with your community."
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