Archive for Friday, December 11, 1998

MARKET BRINGS MEDITERRANEAN TO CITY

December 11, 1998

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When Mohammed Alzaiti opened his little grocery earlier this year, he figured it would be a hit mostly with Middle-Eastern people.

He was wrong.

"I was kind of surprised," Alzaiti, who runs the store with his cousin, said Thursday. "I was expecting mostly Mediterranean people, but I'm seeing a lot more American people -- people originally from Chicago, New York -- and a lot of students."

With Americans' increasing appetite for ethnic and regional foods, it should come as little surprise Alzaiti's store is finding a niche. It seems there's quite a market for the cheeses, baklava, falafel and olive oils that are among Mediterranean Market's most popular items.

Alzaiti, who started the business with savings he and his wife put together, said he decided to open the store after realizing there wasn't any real competition.

"My competition is one shelf in the corner of a store focusing on Korean or Chinese food," he said. "The town was missing this kind of stuff. Most people are excited they don't have to drive to Kansas City anymore."

Instead, they can head down to Alzaiti's store to pick up lamb or goat meat, quail, Turkish coffee, exotic teas, juices, rices, cookies, pita bread, hummus, nuts, spices, grape leaves, beans and vegetables. There's also cookware, serving ware and scarves.

Besides people looking for culinary adventure or a taste of home, the Alzaiti is finding an increasing business from the city's restaurants.

Alzaiti is a Jordanian-born American citizen who's lived in the Kansas City area for about 10 years. He's also studying electrical engineering at Kansas University.

-- Richard Brack's phone message number is 832-7194. His e-mail address is rbrack@ljworld.com.

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