Packed Away on the Other Side of Northeastern
Just a 15 minute walk from Northeastern University is Haley House Bakery Café, a place that offers food incomparable to many of Boston's most well-known eateries. Why you might not know about it? Haley House is set back away from Washington Street in a parking lot. It's also in Roxbury, a Boston neighborhood where perhaps too many associate the name with crime and poverty. Yet, it also boasts a history deep in community, jazz, and let's not forget Roxbury was home to Malcolm X during his most formative years.
Inside the small café, the walls are filled with community art and t-shirts that say "No Crime No Time End Prison Slavery" which evoke a feeling of social change. It's a place that seems to hide stories and keep little bits of wisdom deep within its nooks.
As a 501c3 non-profit, Haley House is known for three things:
1) Delicious healthy food. They offer Equal Exchange coffee and a menu that includes mouth-watering breakfast items, like the Haley House Potato Bowl. It includes home fries with caramelized onion, Asiago cheese, gravy, scallions and an egg over easy. New to the menu, my fresh vegetable omelet breakfast included red onion, mushroom, tomato, basil, and goat cheese.
2) Community. Haley House has traditionally been staffed by people who have had significant barriers to employment. The bakery includes a transitional employment program teaching recently incarcerated men job skills in the food industry. A PBS Newshour story about the program featured previously Joe Bartley, who spent 12 years in prison: "He credits not just the work, but the opportunity to share with others who’ve been through similar experiences, as a key factor in his success outside prison walls." On any given evening, you might walk into a community meeting or perhaps even stumble upon an open-mic or film screening.
3) Growth. Seldom do I come across an organization that is in the business of mixing financial sustainability and doing good, where the product itself stands alone without needing the heartwarming story. The breakfast was better than most diners/cafes found in Boston. According to Tan Keeley, front of house staff, "It does feel like we're still unknown. I think it's because we're not that visible from the street. We're packed away, " he said. Tan took the breakfast orders of a family of five before adding, "But I'm seeing new people come in every day and there's definitely more and more of them."
For an organization that has been a Boston community staple for nearly 50 years, it seemed that being a packed away is perhaps part of the appeal for its old and new patrons.
LOCATION: 12 Dade Street, Roxbury, MA, 02119 (15 minute walk from Ruggles T Station - Orange Line)
Monday - Wednesday | 7:30 am - 6 pm
Thursday | 7:30 am - 9 pm
Friday | 7:30 am - 6 pm
Saturday | 9 am - 4 pm
Sunday | 10 am - 4 pm