Parent You Should Know: Jeryl Cole

(Provided by Jeryl Cole)

As a Baltimore native, Jeryl Cole knew what kind of businessman he wanted to be when he grew up. He wanted to be an entrepreneur involved in and connected to the community he served. Today, that’s his reality.

Jeryl Cole and his wife, Ty, own and operate Off the Rox, a wine and craft beer shop in Baltimore’s Highlandtown neighborhood. The duo lives in the city, where they are raising their three boys, Jeryl Cole Jr. (9), Emil (6) and Mali (4).

But the shop isn’t your typical alcohol retailer. Cole has been determined not to sell the things he says have historically harmed inner city communities, such as malt liquor.

What’s behind that unique perspective?
I think respecting the community goes into dealing with the people in the community, hearing what their needs are, hearing how you could be a part of the community and physically giving back to the community. It’s about being more than a taker and just a retailer, but also a giver as well.

I grew up in northeast Baltimore and every store that sold alcohol had protective glass. I don’t think my family or people in the neighborhood actually shook the hand of someone who ran one of those stores, and I don’t think the people who ran those stores ever came to a community meeting, walked down the street or went to a stoop night with neighbors, or went to play dates at Patterson Park.

We take pride in being a part of the community. That’s the reason why we’re still able to be there, because the community also supports us.

What do you love about your job?
First off, I am a foodie—I’m like, the biggest foodie. I love pairing wine. I love making food. I love just being interactive and social. With business, there’s always that saying that you get into things that it doesn’t feel like work. From day one, when I’ve been in this business, it never really felt like a burden going to work, even when I started out as a young bartender or barback.

What do you love about being a parent?
I love everything. I think the biggest thing I love about being a parent is when I come home, sometimes from those long days at work, and they’re literally just waiting to jump on me or tell me about their day. I truly gained friends with these little guys. Talking to them as a mentor and leader, helping these guys navigate their lives so far, it’s my responsibility. It’s the parent’s responsibility to raise good people. Hopefully, those little people will be great people when they’re older and they can help society in some sort of fashion within their communities.

What do you hope your children learn from you?
I hope they learn how to be a stand-up, honest person. I think that being a leader rubs off on people—being outspoken. I always say, every time they go to school, I say, “Hey, be a leader and enjoy and learn in school.” I’m not naïve of some of the troubles that can possibly go through the city of Baltimore, some of the vices. We love our city, and we’re raising our kids within Baltimore City, and we choose to—we go to public school.

What is a challenge you’ve faced as a parent?
In a perfect world, you don’t have to work, and you just spend time with your kids 24-7, but I don’t know if that’s good for either of us. My wife is a scheduler, and she balances out with family, and she tells us to go and we show up. We as a unit all work together. The kids know what we do when we go to fundraisers, and the kids know when we have to work. The kids know when we might not be home as much throughout the week. I don’t really see any real challenges in my life because we wake up looking to be great every day.

Family Favorites
Meal: One-pot shepherd’s pie
Dessert: My wife makes these great vegan chocolate chip cookies.
Vacation spot: Dewey Beach
Local spot: Patterson Park
Group activity: Puzzles, talking, CrossFit and listening to music together

About Heather M. Ross

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