Food & Drink

Cameo: Nancy Cohen

We talk to the owner of Eddie’s of Roland Park

The market turns 75 this year. What does that mean to you?
It’s actually incredibly emotional. My father started this in Roland Park 75 years ago and I am so sorry that he’s not here today to see both of his two grandsons [Michael and Andrew Schaffer] become part of the business. It’s wonderful and exciting, and I feel so fortunate.

How has Eddie’s evolved from what your father began?
We just keep on going up. In 1992, I opened a store on North Charles Street. That was a really big deal, because we had always been in Roland Park, since 1944. So that’s why I kept the name the same, so it could be understood that it was the same company. It’s very important to us that we are able to meet the needs of our customers. For example, I realized when I got pregnant with my first son, Michael, I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to see a stove. I didn’t want to stand there and smell the food while I was cooking. So, I brought in chefs and we opened the Gourmet To-Go in 1986. And we’ve just evolved since then. We respond to what our customers’ needs are.

What do you think makes Eddie’s different from other businesses?
Basically, it’s tradition. We still have house accounts, and we’ve had them since probably the fifties or sixties. This is a family-run business and we are fiercely independent. So along with the house accounts, we do things like, if you are having a company at your house and you bring your platter, we will use your platters to set up whatever food you wanted. If you have special recipes that you would like to go on these platters or even in our containers, we will make those for you. I have a picture from the 1960s of an Eddie’s van delivering in a snowstorm, and we still do that. But the interesting thing to me is that because we have a phenomenal staff, customers develop relationships with the people that are here and have been here. And they continue to shop here partially because of those relationships.

What advice would you give to others running family businesses today?
Family businesses are incredible, and they also can be incredibly challenging. I feel it’s really important that everybody recognizes everybody’s strengths, because we all have different strengths. I also think that open and honest communication is crucial. You have to realize that we all have the same goal. For me, it’s that this was my father’s legacy. It was crucial for me to maintain, grow, and continue that legacy. And I know that my boys feel just as strongly about that. The business is a reflection on them, as well as on me. To see them working here and to see their involvement and their love and their pride for this business—it means everything to me.

After 75 years, what do you want the community to know?
When my father opened up, he made a decision to provide what he felt that the community needed. And we still do that. We are here, we are happy to be here. We are proud to be local. We believe in local, we believe in supporting local, and we are a part of this community and we believe in supporting it.