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Serving Baltimore's best sticky wings with a side of compassion, watching over Pigtown's street kids

Posted at 11:09 AM, Mar 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 17:57:31-04

Every morning walking the trash-littered streets of Pigtown, Kim Ellis sees children through her restaurant's windows with nothing better to do.

"Breaking stuff and kicking cans, and when I say breaking stuff, I mean like they see a bike and they might twist off the thing," saying their mischief is the result of their circumstances.

She's seen the hardship in their eyes, the same twisted expressions on the faces of schoolyard bullies who pushed her around.

"Everything done to you, isn't about you, so like I can't tell you what that person's issue was," Ellis said, "I was the only black kid in a white school, I was the only girl that wanted to do something that boys wanted to do, or  I just wasn't liked for whatever reason."

"I'm still kind of that girl, where if you step up, you kinda get pushed back, so it's always easier to make yourself feel smaller and disappear and I really can't do that because now I have a lot of people pushing me in the opposite direction," Ellis said.

She's now the owner of Breaking Bread, known for having the best Sticky Wings in the city and that's not all. Kim hopes Breaking Bread can be a part of breaking the cycle of hate and violence in Baltimore.

"So one day, they would come in and they were asking my customers for money, and I was like, 'What? Come over here. You do not come into my restaurant and ask my customers for money. I own a restaurant, if you're hungry, you say Miss Kim,' Hi Miss Kim, we shook hands (laughs) I was like, 'You let me know if you're hungry and we'll get you something to eat.'...[He] came in early Saturday morning and they sat here, had their feet up on my chair, and I'm like (clap) get your feet off my chair, sit up and it was, 'I'll have pancakes, and I'll have french toast.' I was like, 'You have your menu choices take it or leave it. I'll be bringing out your food, you eat it and you say thank you'...Tomorrow I'm going to need you to sweep out front and we'll do this again," her agreement still stands.

Over time she grew fond of the young man, saying he has a "brilliant smile, beautiful spirit, now he's a skateboard kid and he's going up and down the skateboard."

Starting to care as if he were her own child, "he came in one day and it was really cold, it was like 10:30 11 o'clock in the morning, and I was like well go home and get a jacket, and he says I can't go home. Well why can't you go home? Because my mom puts me out at 10 o'clock and I am not expected back until 10 o'clock."

The shock gave way to fear for his wellbeing and who knows how many others like him on the streets of her neighborhood.

"if you're hurt at 10:30 in the morning, nobody's looking for you until ten, god forbid they don't even recognize it's 10 and it's actually 11 when they finally realize you're not home," making it her mission to look out for them, receiving love and respect in return.

"That basic humanity is the best thing that I could ever leave in the wake of me being here. Is kids who really understand that you have to help somebody. What the hell are you here for, like why do you have a blessing?" Ellis said.

A message delivered along with those wings, and a hope that the next generation might pass her kindness on. Bringing Baltimore closer together, instead of splintering farther apart.