By Mike Kinney
Richmond’s weather and its people convinced Sam Ali to remain in the community for 20 years to operate his business and raise his kids. At Palm Halah Food Market, which opened at San Pablo Avenue and McBryde Avenue in October 2018, Ali says he has all he needs. A connection to his Middle Eastern roots, with the ability to mingle with his neighbors and serve them food and products they’d struggle to find elsewhere.
“My customers are warm and wonderful people,” Ali said during our visit Wednesday.
Palm Halah Food Market offers traditional imported Middle East, Turkish and Arab groceries and products, with California-sourced meats. A deli within the market offers Middle Eastern delights such as shish Kebab, shawarma, halal chicken and lamb gyro, each accompanied by basmati rice, salad, hummus and pita bread. Professional cooks are prepping meals from the deli, Ali says. Takeout and catering services are offered.
In addition to food, the market sells jambiya daggers, prayer rugs, traditional smoking hookahs, various Islamic spiritual wall hangings and has a full-service jewelry stand, a unique henna salon, and fresh medicinal herbs.
Among the business’ most popular items: halal meats. Meats are delivered five days per week from Stockton, Woodland and Fresno.
“We sell our meat quickly,” Ali said. “We have them for a few days and then have to quickly reorder.”
While the COVID-19 crisis has hurt many businesses, Ali says his market hasn’t been as affected because he imports the majority of his products from overseas, unhindered by impacts to local supply chains.
“Honestly the coronavirus has hurt everybody’s [business] except mine,” Ali said. “…We don’t have the same issues that other local businesses might have.”
Meanwhile, the business enjoys positive reviews about its food, selection of Middle Eastern items, and about Ali himself.
Ali has a warm spot for Richmond and the community members he calls neighbors.
“I have been staying here in Richmond for 20 years,” he says. “This where my business is and my kids grew up here. My kids help in our family business too.”
Palm Halal Food Market is located at 12915 San Pablo Ave and opens daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.