I love supporting Black-owned businesses. There’s a certain level of joy I get out of seeing thriving Black business owners in the neighborhoods where they grew up giving back to their communities and living out their dreams.

Seeing the passion, creativity, and resiliency in Black-owned businesses is exciting, especially in a city like Baltimore.

People from outside of Baltimore don’t get it: Our swagger, our culture, our history that gives us the freedom to operate like we do and have the can-do attitude to push through any obstacle. To most outsiders, Baltimore is reduced to its crime rate or bad reputation. But there’s so much more here — like our businesses.

Here’s are some of the interesting Black-owned businesses you should check out.

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CollegiateLuxe

Address: Harborplace (The Old H&M Store) 301 Light St., Suite 1575, Baltimore

Anyone who knows me knows I love the historically Black college or university that I attended, which, by the way is, *ahem* thee illustrious Morgan State University. (It’s like A Tribe Called Quest, you have to say it altogether). Attending an HBCU was the best decision I ever made, and no matter where I go, I wear my alumni status on my sleeve like a badge of honor. And with a store like CollegiateLuxe, I can literally do that.

According to their website, CollegiateLuxe is a brand “passionate about bringing memories to those who graduated from HBCU with the right gear.” And as soon as you walk through the doors of the store, that passion is felt immediately.

I came across this establishment while desperately searching for some Morgan alumni gear during homecoming season. As soon as I walked in, my HBCU pride went up a couple of notches. The vibrant colors that jumped off the hoodies, jackets, sweaters, pullovers and T-shirts branded with a variety of HBCU logos grabbed my attention. I became a little jealous that my school didn’t have certain colors that coordinated with the designs, because as we know, when it comes to fashion, the secret is, you gotta coordinate!

HBCU apparel on display at CollegiateLuxe store
HBCU apparel on display at CollegiateLuxe store (Tramon Lucas/The Baltimore Banner)

I bought a denim jacket that was not only affordable, but also in my size, because normally, it’s harder to find quality clothing that fits me. This is a store where I will continue to shop.

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With the holidays in full swing, this could be the perfect opportunity to gift that special someone in your life some HBCU swag.

The store is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Chef Bobby D

4032 Falls Road, Baltimore

For this selection, I’m going to need my financial advisor, aka my mom, to look away, because I’m embarrassed to admit how much money I have given spent here over the last —*checks DoorDash receipts* — two years.

I first heard of Chef Bobby D in 2021 while returning to work during the pandemic. My former coworkers would come into the office with light green plastic bags with this good-smelling food. I’m talking smoked chicken wings, jerk chicken, even a half a rack of ribs (yes, they were bringing ribs into the office y’all), and more food that made me question why my strategy of saving money and meal prepping wasn’t working.

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Chef Bobby D is committed to his pledge to “continue offering world-class quality services to every customer,” as the website says. And once I finally gave in to FOMO and became a customer, my tastebuds were changed for the better.

In the last couple years, I’ve ordered several items from the menu, including but not limited to the salmon Rasta pasta, blackened grilled salmon, fired jumbo shrimp, the crab cake platter and more.

Every single time I take a bite of food from this restaurant, I can hear Prince’s “Adore” playing in the background. From the way the food is prepared, the flavor and seasoning (yes, that’s important), it’s truly a heavenly experience. I try to savor each moment, and regardless, I’m sure I levitate everytime I take a bite. I also end up fighting off a food coma but ... I regret nothing.

If you’re looking for some good, authentic Jamaican cuisine, this is the place for you.

Cakes by Cynthia

3531 Washington Blvd., Suite 102, Lansdowne Station Shopping Center, Halethorpe

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For my fellow lovers of sweets, I selected this one especially for us.

If you ever heard the saying, “You put your foot in this” in relation to your cooking, that’s a great and remarkable compliment to your skills in the kitchen. That’s how I feel when I have Cakes By Cynthia.

This business from native Cynthia Carr, a self-taught cake decorator, business owner, mom and wife, delivers so much in her deserts, especially flavorful excitement in each bite.

Cakes by Cynthia caught my attention a couple of years ago while I scrolling Instagram. Since then, I’ve been amazed and impressed with the level of talent and creativity of Carr’s work. For example, if you take a tour of her Instagram account, you’ll find impressive custom cakes like an Old Bay/crabs creation or Fortnite-inspired and SpongeBob Squarepants cakes.

Creative cupcakes from Cakes by Cynthia.
Creative cupcakes from Cakes by Cynthia. (Tramon Lucas/The Baltimore Banner)

While I haven’t ordered my own custom cake yet, I have tried her cupcakes. On two occasions, I’ve had these flavors: Oreo, Strawberry Crunch, Snickerdoodle, Birthday Cake, Triple Chocolate and Cookie Dough, each uniquely detailed. With each bite, I became more of a fan. These aren’t average store-bought cupcakes. You can taste the care and passion Carr puts into her creations.

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The business books up quickly, so follow the proper instructions and become her latest customer.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

830 East Pratt St., Baltimore

Black history and culture is always on display when you enter the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. And you can always count on something happening at the museum, especially with it being right in the heart of Baltimore.

According to its website, the Lewis Museum, named after Baltimore native and legendary businessman Reginald F. Lewis, is the premiere experience and best resource for information and inspiration about the lives of African American Marylanders.

I like museums, but I’m either too busy or lazy to go. But last summer, I was granted an opportunity to visit the museum during the exhibition of “Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth,” which chronicled the journeys of revolutionary Black men throughout history, such as Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, W.E.B. Du Bois, Kendrick Lamar, and Baltimore natives Frederick Douglass and Ta-Nehisi Coates. As a Black man, a lot of the works in that exhibition resonated with me, as artists used unique and creative ways to highlight these legends.

The Lewis Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is open Monday, Thursday through Saturday, and Sunday. The museum is closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

BRUNCH GODS

7149 Security Blvd. at Boulevard Place, Woodlawn

BRUNCH GODS is a bold name, but this business lives up to the hype.

According to their website, this neighborhood eatery offers a “truly unique brunch experience.” I heard about BRUNCH GODS through social media and, of course, our own coverage. My first experiences with the establishment didn’t disappoint.

I’ve tried the food several times, with each time better than the last.

The Chicken & French Toast order from BRUNCH GODS.
The Chicken and French Toast order from BRUNCH GODS. (Tramon Lucas/The Baltimore Banner)

My recommendations: The Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit, Marcy’s French Toast Sandwich and their take on Chicken and French Toast.

I’m a fan of how the chefs add their own creative spin on brunch and lunch, creating variations of pancakes, French toast, chicken sandwiches and more. Each time I see a new post from their Instagram account, I want to try everything on the menu … twice. (I may or may not be hungry as I’m writing this).

BRUNCH GODS is open Wednesday through Sunday. Check them out, the food is worth the trip.

Tramon Lucas is the Digital Editor at The Baltimore Banner. Tramon has worked in the digital news space for several years, with experiences in creating content and developing strategies for multiple platforms and audiences. He's a proud Baltimoreans and proud alumnus of Morgan State University. 

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