Back when Mountain Road was a dirt path, members of the Angel family sold drinks and snacks out of their farmhouse.
“It started as a little farmhouse in the ‘20s and gradually grew a little bit to where it was a small grocery store,” said Walt Clocker, who now runs Angel’s Food Market.
The Clocker family took over the business in 1960 when Walt’s grandfather purchased the property. Previously, the family was involved in the wholesale seafood business in Baltimore, and some of the family still works at the original business, E Goodwin and Sons.
“My grandfather broke off from them, said, ‘I’m going to go out into the country and buy this little grocery business,’” Clocker said. “He brought a little more professionalism to it; my grandfather having come from business made it a more true grocery store operation.”
Since 1960, Angel’s has gone through many changes, both physical and operational.
After a fire in 1976, Angel’s was rebuilt. The initial rebuild put Angel’s at 120 feet wide and 80 feet deep, Clocker said. Now, in 2019, Angel’s is at 27,000 square feet. The store has roughly tripled in size.
“Over all that time, we’ve evolved with the grocery industry in general,” Clocker said.
Angel’s now incorporates technology, social media and prepared meals into its daily operation. Customers can now visit Angel’s Facebook page to check out daily specials and the day’s hot food offerings. But no matter how much the operation changes with the times, one thing remains consistent: Angel’s famous homemade salads.
“Those go back to my grandmother, probably even great-grandmother,” Clocker said. “Old German recipes for potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni. Those are the big three. Now we have many others we make.”
The fried chicken is now popular among Angel’s customers, Clocker said. Also known for its well-stocked beer, wine and liquor selection, Angel’s serves as a “one stop-shop,” Clocker said.
Another way Angel’s has expanded is by providing catering services. Customers have a variety of catering options, starting with picking up a platter at the store to full-service, black tie wedding catering. A popular option is Drop, Set and Go, in which someone from Angel’s will deliver and set up the food for customers, and then leave.
“By growing the way we did, we’ve always been able to basically have the full supply of grocery items that any supermarket would have,” Clocker said. “We pride ourselves on always looking for new specialty items.”
Angel’s is also known in the community for its philanthropic activities, donating to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, civic groups, sports teams and more.
“We couldn’t see operating any other way,” Clocker said. “It’s in our DNA. That’s the way I was raised. That’s how we operate within the community.”
Further tying itself into the fabric of the community, Angel’s is a popular employer for area high school students.
“This is another feature of being a community independent grocery store is the number of young people who we’ve hired as teenagers as their first job, taught them basic job skills, that have gone on to other things,” Clocker said. “It’s really rewarding to see the kids that started here go off and do big things.”
Though people move from Pasadena, many still have family members who reside here. From time to time, someone will call Angel’s and ask for a basket to be delivered to an elderly relative.
“We try to respond to any customer request we get, no matter how unique or unusual, and help them out,” Clocker said.
Though Angel’s has been in the Clocker family for nearly 60 years, Clocker said the key elements of Pasadena have remained the same.
“It’s still very neighborhood-oriented. Everybody looks out for each other,” Clocker said. “We see all the time where people bump into each other in the aisles here like, ‘Oh, I haven’t seen you in so long.’ They’ll wind up standing in the aisle talking for half an hour. Angel’s is the meeting place in that regard.”
Coming up, Angel’s is hosting Spring Fling, a community flea market, on Saturday, March 23, from 9:00am to 4:00pm. To learn more about Angel’s Food Market, stop by the store at 4681 Mountain Road in Pasadena, call 410-255-6800 or visit www.angelsfoodmarket.com.