High Five, the new treat shop that opened along Main Street this spring, is a labor of love from a family that wanted to bring something sweet to the heart of Laurel.
Lauren and Garth Hamilton and their three children - ages 14, 11, and 4 - have lived in Laurel for 11 years and established ties in the restaurant industry. Lauren works in marketing and economic development to promote retail corridors, and the couple owns California Tortilla franchises in Washington and Rockville.
When space opened up at 502 Main St., formerly the site of Sweets and Treats Creamery and next door to the popular Olive on Main restaurant, the couple were urged by their older kids to take the plunge and open a shop that would be uniquely their own.
The Hamiltons’ oldest daughter wanted the menu to include acai bowls, a Brazilian dish made from acai palm fruit that is puréed and often served like a smoothie with toppings. All of the kids love Hershey’s ice cream and wanted it featured.
“We’re a treat shop,” Lauren said. “Whether it is healthy treats or unhealthy treats, it’s a judgment-free zone.”
The name High Five is in honor of the five members of the Hamilton family and because it offers an upbeat and positive image. The family took over the lease to their new space in November and gutted and refurbished it entirely themselves. The kids helped develop recipes, taste test ice cream flavors and plan the menu. The couple hired three employees to help the shop run smoothly.
High Five opened the first week of March. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the bottom fell out from under much of the restaurant business.
“It’s been challenging,” Lauren said.
The employees they hired were not even able to start. and the couple has been handling all shifts themselves. The shop limited its menu for the time being to ice cream, shakes, smoothies and cookies. They delayed offering acai bowls because making each one is time and labor intensive.
Things are looking up, however. Friends, neighbors and acquaintances from their kids’ basketball teams and Girl Scout troops have stopped by for a treat. The shop was promoted on the Laurel Area Take-Out Facebook group, which has 2,000 members to share and support local restaurants, and business picked up significantly. Other Main Street restaurants and business owners have promoted High Five and directed their own customers there.
Lauren said business has been strong enough recently that she hopes to hire back one or two employees and offer the full menu in the coming weeks. Orders called in ahead are taken so that customers don’t have to wait in the shop, which is being cleaned frequently. The couple has plans to make High Five more accessible for those with disabilities and redo the front patio area to offer outdoor seating when it is safe again.
“We love Main Street,” Lauren said. “It’s really great to see Laurel being able to show up and show out for the small business community. Our strongest asset is our community and we’re just excited to be a part of that.”
High Five is at 502 Main St. and open Wednesdays thru Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eight ice cream flavors are rotated regularly and a full menu is available at highfivedmv.com. Call in orders at 301-317-4444.
A huge thank-you is owed to some neighbors who have worked together in the past couple of weeks to keep Old Town beautiful during this pandemic.
The lawn surrounding Laurel Elementary School was overrun recently, with grass more than a foot tall in some places. The school grounds are the responsibility of Prince George’s County, but, unfortunately, its upkeep had been neglected and the normally bustling school was becoming an eyesore.
Enter Kathie Peterson, who for several years has organized regular events to clear our Old Town streets of trash. She grabbed her lawn mower and some fellow neighbors and spent time on May 10, Mother’s Day, mowing the front lawn of the school. Peterson returned on May 13 to mow the school’s side yard along Sixth Street. More neighbors planned to dedicate time over the weekend to cleaning up the back of the school.
That’s not the only hands-on beautification effort that Historic District neighbors have tackled in the past several weeks. Many of the beds surrounding the trees on Main Street were overrun with weeds. Longtime resident Ruth Walls organized an effort on May 12 for neighbors to weed the beds and help make Main Street a bit more attractive.
The neighbors who pitched in to help at either Laurel Elementary or on Main Street are many, and I may miss some, but they deserve to be acknowledged. In addition to Peterson and Walls, those who helped include: Ward 1 Councilman Carl DeWalt, Tammy Lynn DeWalt, Mike Walls, Amy Graver, Caleb Hoffman, Brandon Vaugh, Kathleen Dalphonse, Brian Keating, Eileen Collins and Gabrielle Whitfield. Thanks to you all, and my apologies to anyone I missed.