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From a former liquor store on the edge of Charles Village comes the aroma of baking bread

Maya Muñoz and Russell Trimmer have launched Motzi Bread at the corner of Guilford Avenue and East 28th Street, where a neighborhood drugstore once stood.
Maya Muñoz and Russell Trimmer have launched Motzi Bread at the corner of Guilford Avenue and East 28th Street, where a neighborhood drugstore once stood.(Amy Davis)

Folks were generally hunkered down Thursday morning, but a cluster of activity kept it lively at Guilford Avenue and 28th Street. People walked up the steps to a classic 1914 rowhouse front porch and left with brown bags holding artisan breads fresh from the oven.

Some walked, others drove and some, like Ednor Gardens resident Nick Redfern, arrived on a bike.

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He left with a loaf of his favorite, einkorn bread, made from an heirloom grain that is a predecessor to wheat. (Einkorn is a rare grain that gets to Baltimore thanks to an Amish farmer in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.)

“It has a cool taste,” Redfern said. “It almost has a kind of cheese-like zing to it.”

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He’s a fan of ancient grains too.

“The first time I ate einkorn I understood how the Romans were able to march all day in armor eating nothing but bread,” he said.

Redfern glanced along 28th Street and said, “I predict this place is going to have a really good influence on the neighborhood.”

The place he and other buyers visited is Motzi Bread, a bakery soon to open in a venerable corner business location in Harwood at the edge of Charles Village, where from World War I through the 1960s the neighborhood gathered to have a lemon phosphate, a vanilla ice cream cone or Bromo-Seltzer.

What is now the bakery was founded in 1914 as the Guilford Pharmacy, a classic neighborhood drug store with a busy soda fountain founded by T. E. Ragland. The pharmacy closed in the early 1970s, and the spot became a carryout liquor store.

The new owners have gutted all traces of the beer and wine operation. Where there were once rows of aspirin and milk of magnesia bottles is a grain milling operation and a croissant twisting table. There will be tables to seat 12 customers.

Maya Muñoz and Russell Trimmer have launched Motzi Bread in Charles Village. The smell of freshly-baked bread wafts out of the bakery at the corner of Guilford Avenue and E. 28th Street, where a neighborhood drugstore once stood, and more recently, a liquor store. The opening of the storefront bakery is on hold, but customers can enroll in bread subscriptions with weekly or biweekly pickup. They mill their own flour, use local grains and long fermentation to create their breads.
Maya Muñoz and Russell Trimmer have launched Motzi Bread in Charles Village. The smell of freshly-baked bread wafts out of the bakery at the corner of Guilford Avenue and E. 28th Street, where a neighborhood drugstore once stood, and more recently, a liquor store. The opening of the storefront bakery is on hold, but customers can enroll in bread subscriptions with weekly or biweekly pickup. They mill their own flour, use local grains and long fermentation to create their breads.(Amy Davis)

The former soda fountain space (Hendler’s ice cream and fountain Cokes served here years ago) has a new counter where the breads baked by Russell Trimmer and his wife, Maya Muñoz, will be sold. The couple have spent the past months overseeing construction of the operation, its grain mills and, of course, the oven.

Under Baltimore’s Cottage Food ordinance, bakers Trimmer and Muñoz are allowed to work from their own upstairs temporary kitchen — and thereby send the scent of fresh-baked bread over neighborhood rooftops.

Once the ground floor opens and goes into full production, the working bakery will get new quarters facing 28th Street. Its opening has been delayed by a policy that Baltimore City Health Department inspectors are not visiting new, unopened restaurant kitchens during the coronavirus period.

Most of the current Motzi Bread customers are on a weekly bread subscription of about $7 a loaf, which can be picked up on a Thursday or a Saturday.

Trimmer, who grew up in Lexington, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge, baked in Richmond before moving to Baltimore as lead bread baker at the Woodberry Kitchen.

Muñoz, who grew up in Columbia and later lived in Mount Airy, is a former Baltimore County schools teacher who is now a full-time baker.

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They bought 2801 Guilford Ave. in 2017 with the idea of creating a neighborhood bread bakery using the sourdough process. The name Motzi derives from a Hebrew phrase to bring forth a blessing over bread.

Trimmer said his focus is on bread just now. In time, he plans to introduce other breakfast items and croissants.

Motzi Bread now serves several hundred customers, many of whom have heard of the bakery through word-of-mouth recommendation. The idea is to keep it manageable and grow over time.

“Our immediate focus right now is serving the people on the immediate blocks around us,” Trimmer said.

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