It took years of searching, but Sumayyah Bilal has finally found a home for Codetta Bake Shop.
With family and friends gathered around, Bilal signed a lease Monday on the property at 10 S. Howard St., formerly a Dunkin’, with hopes to open the business by next spring.
Bilal started her bakery, known for offerings such as cheesecake and cupcakes, during the pandemic, and now operates as a ghost kitchen out of Light Street Presbyterian Church in Federal Hill. She has ambitious plans for her downtown location, which at 5,200 square feet will include a bakery and cafe and allow her to scale up her business.
“We’re significantly ramping up production” with the move, Bilal said. A new oven can bake as many as 1,000 cupcakes at a time while expanded freezer space will allow for nationwide shipments. In addition, Bilal plans to include a stage and gallery space where local artists can perform and show their work. Bilal, a former music teacher, named her small business for a musical term, though customers frequently think it’s her own name.
The new shop is located on the ground floor of a building called Redwood Campus Center. Built in 1974 as office space, it was converted into apartments two years ago, said owner Cary Euwer. “There are 400 hungry people upstairs and they order all their meals online,” he said, adding that the building’s residents are mostly graduate students at the nearby University of Maryland School of Medicine who have little time to cook. “All the residents have a huge demand for food.”
The storefront also sits across the street from CFG Bank Arena, formerly the Royal Farms Arena, and nearby arts venues like the Hippodrome Theatre.
Euwer and Bilal were introduced through Downtown Partnership, which also provided Codetta with a $50,000 BOOST grant that will help cover relocation expenses. The grant program, which stands for Black-Owned and Operated Storefront Tenancy, is meant to help revitalize the city’s downtown area in the post-COVID economy. Bilal’s business was one of the first winners, back in 2021.
Vacant for years, the storefront will need a complete transformation; Bilal plans to work with Metropolitan Partnership and BCT Design Group on the overhaul. “I just want everything to scream, ‘Take a picture and post it on Instagram,’” Bilal told friends as she guided them through the space during what she called her “lease-signing ceremony.”
In attendance was Amanda Mack, whose Crust By Mack bakery is set to open next month inside Baltimore’s Harborplace. Though the two businesses could technically be competitors, Mack said they frequently send customers one another’s way and support each other’s concepts. “We are two Black, amazing women in the culinary field,” Mack said over a plate of cheesecake. “We definitely have to stick together.”
Wiping away tears was Bilal’s mother, Ikhlas Bilal, who said she was proud to see her youngest child (of seven) take such a big step. “There’s nothing like setting a goal and achieving it,” she said.