Archive for ‘Phoenicia Team’

Moses Abayan


Posted in Phoenicia Team
Moses Abayan

As manager of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Moses Abayan is the lead buyer and employee manager. As lead buyer, Moses contributes to the purchasing of Phoenicia Specialty Foods’ more than 10,000 products specializing in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean imports and produce. Also in this position, Moses manages the 100 plus employees in the Phoenicia Specialty Foods West Houston location.

Moses’ hobbies include spending time outdoors and playing tennis. During his free time, Moses enjoys spending time with his two sons and family.

Esin Comert


Posted in Phoenicia Team
Esin Comert

As a manager of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Esin Comert oversees the daily transactions of over 1,000 Phoenicia Specialty Foods wholesale accounts. In this position, Esin assists customers ranging from small and large grocery stores to restaurants by filling orders and managing the shipping and receiving of goods. Having grown up in Turkey, Esin uses her expertise in the region to grade select the international products.

In her spare time, Esin enjoys cooking, travel and outdoor sports.

Milly Aponte


Posted in Phoenicia Team
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Milly is quickly becoming everyone’s favorite reason to shop downtown, her enthusiasm and her passion for Phoenicia are amazing and her product knowledge is unrivaled!

She can often be found hunting down a certain spice or searching the shelves for a special food that the customer can only describe by appearance or aroma…she is a phenomenal Phoenicia Phoodie!

Milly started eight years ago, as she remembers fondly, by asking her brother who was already employed here to find out if she could be hired. When he failed to get her an interview she boldly walked right up to the owner and told him, “You need to hire me!” and we are forever grateful that he did!

Milly was born in Higuey, Dominican Republic a city known for its tourism and beauty. Growing up in Higuey gave her a passion for history and culture which is what she loves most about Phoenicia.

Milly loves the history behind the foods we sell and even though she is a self proclaimed non-cook, she loves how dishes are made and what they represent to the cultures that enjoy them.

Heath, a resident of One Park Place; loves Milly’s energy and passion for the job, He recently said, “Milly is the main reason I shop here, she has an amazing positive energy and she is one of the best things about Phoenicia”
When Milly isn’t bustling through the store she like to relax by reading books, riding her bike, attending shows at Miller Outdoor theater or zipping around on her cute scooter!

Milly was recently voted by all her co-workers as the “Yummiest All Around Employee” and we wholeheartedly agree, so stop by Phoenicia Downtown and see all the products that Milly’s heart sing!

Massar Rahma


Posted in Phoenicia Team
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With a background as a computer programmer, Massar Rahma walked into Phoenicia Specialty Foods two years ago, looking for a stocking job that would tide him over until he found his dream job. Little did he know that dream job would be as general manager at Arpi’s Phoenicia Deli!

When Massar began working at Arpi’s, he fell in love with the food and the different kinds of coffees they make. He was eager to learn how to make them and worked diligently to learn from other baristas until he perfected his techniques. His favorite coffee drink is the Vanilla Dulce de Leche–and he gets many requests for this goodness in a cup!

At Arpi’s, he is the Massar of all! He can often be seen buzzing around the busy kitchen, helping on the registers, making coffee and always taking the time to help a customer who may be unfamiliar with Arpi’s delicacies. He laughs as he recalls one customer, who has since become a regular, who chastised him for making him taste an item. Now that customer comes in almost daily for it. The customer said, “It is your fault, Massar! You made me try it!” Massar loves the busy lunch times and has a following of regulars that come in so often, he knows their orders by heart.

You can hear the joy in his heart when he talks about busy weekends when families are relaxing at tables and kids are playing games and laughing. This is Massar’s favorite time at Arpi’s. He beams with a humbling sincerity we when he talks about Arpi’s and how he wants customers to feel like Arpi’s is their home away from home.

Come to Arpi’s and become one of Massar’s “regulars.” He will make you feel like you are home.

Patrick “Count de Kabob” Rayer


Posted in Phoenicia Team
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Patrick “Count de Kabob” Rayer was born in Paris and raised in Normandy. He graduated from business school in France and then moved to Dallas to complete his MBA. Patrick loved Texas and traveled to Houston fairly often because he loved Houston’s international flair. While in the city, he learned a lot about different cultures and entranced by Houston’s spell, he decided, with the loving encouragement of his father, to move to Houston. After graduation he landed a job as the buyer for a German company that specialized in building materials. The career move began Patrick’s traveling adventures; he traveled to Brazil, Italy and all around Europe. Once the company split, Patrick found himself looking for new opportunities – one came in the form of a lovely Armenian woman from Iraq who had very close ties to the Armenian community and was close to Bob and Arpi Tcholakian. He married his sweetheart in 1982 and as he says fondly, “Sometimes in life, things turn out good.”

A new grocery chain had moved into Houston from France and it seemed a perfect spot for him until the chain closed its Texan doors. In short order, Patrick moved to France where he found a position with Leroy Merlin, one of the largest European distributors of home improvement products. There was a lot of travel associated with the job and Patrick made over 30 trips to Asia alone! He returned to the states in 1998 to manage Leroy Merlin’s American offices, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

In early 2000, Patrick’s wise words, “life is about timing,” rang true. Life-changing experiences defined his path. His much-loved father passed away, his wife was involved in a major car accident and his Leroy Merlin contract would soon end in Chicago. In a decision to slow down and travel less, Patrick and his wife moved to Houston. In the city, Patrick worked on several ventures, but found nothing fulfilling to him. Around this time, his son, looking for a job, applied at Phoenicia Specialty Foods and Patrick discovered his fascination with the store and its concept. After a conversation with Bob and Arpi, Patrick found himself with a job! With his incredible buying experience, his accounting acumen and his jovial, kind nature, he has become an integral part of Phoenicia’s management team.

When asked about a few of his favorite things, Patrick mentions a love of French food, model airplanes and shish kabob.

Gloria Brown


Posted in Phoenicia Team
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Gloria Brown, soon to be Giannelli, grew up in Chicago and attended Eastern Illinois University where she studied Dietetics and Nutrition. While in college, she met her future husband and in short order, found herself moving to Texas. The Lone Star State held all the things she loves: the warm climate, amazing people and plenty of family to make sure she doesn’t get homesick! It didn’t take long before she became a part of our Phoenicia family.

With her wedding date coming up quickly, Gloria glows as she talks about her upcoming nuptials; she tried on over 300 dresses before she chose an exquisite Enzoni dress that makes her look like a princess! Aside from the fact that she will be getting married in the church that she attended all her life, Gloria shared a story about her engagement ring that encompasses the beauty of her and Nate’s story. After dating for a couple of months, they went to St. Louis, and on a whim, went into a jewelry store to window shop. Nate casually asked her if any of the rings were a favorite and when she chose one, he went back the next weekend, bought it and kept it hidden for 2 ½ years! During their drive to Texas, he hid it in the spare tire carrier of the car, petrified that if they had a flat tire, he would have to propose. When Gloria (and her mother) asked what took so long to give her the ring, he said he was waiting for the perfect moment.

Gloria recounts how she has had to juggle her wedding planning with a very busy MKT BAR. You can feel her passion for MKT BAR radiating as she discusses the upcoming bands, special tastings and unique events. She loves the challenges and excitement at MKT BAR and especially loves meeting new and interesting people. With an enthusiastic smile Gloria said, “No two days are ever the same!” With that same excitement, she thinks our executive chef, Matt Johnson, is an exceptional chef. Her favorite dish is the Squashed Pizza, which she pairs with a glass of Pasion Bobal.

Gloria’s love of travel will challenge Nate’s honeymoon destination planning. They have traveled as far as the Dominican Republic and her favorite spot is Hawaii. No matter the destination, when they return, they will begin building a new house and filling it with kiddos. Gloria flashes a beatific grin and with a twinkle says she’d like five kids! Whew!

Come to MKT BAR, share Gloria’s enthusiasm and be counted as one of the amazing people she meets daily!

Richard Willis


Posted in Phoenicia Team
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With a warm, kind nature that makes everyone feel welcome, Richard works as a Customer Service Specialist in our hot grille downtown. He enjoys a simple life that began in Cincinnati, and after a few detours, brought him to Texas.

One of those detours was a move to Flint, Michigan, in 1977. After attending a friend’s wedding, Richard decided he liked the area and was going to stay. With only the clothes in his suitcase and $10 in his pocket, he never looked back as he began to carve out a life in a new city.

Richard quickly landed a job with General Motors, and in short order, met the woman of his dreams. He was introduced to his future wife, Terry, through a former girlfriend. They were married in 1979 and started their family. While his family was thriving–blessed with one son and two daughters–things were winding down at General Motors. Richard and his family moved to Atlanta, where they lived for several years until Terry became homesick for her family, who was beginning to settle in Texas. They made the big move to Texas and Richard decided to explore his passion for cooking.

Newly arrived in Houston, Richard worked for Pappadeaux and after a two-week training period, was placed in one of their busier restaurants. He decided Pappadeaux wasn’t for him and longed for a better place to work. He had driven by Phoenicia several times and had left an application, but had yet to hear back from anyone. He was becoming anxious. Once while driving by Phoenicia, he pointed out to his wife, “I interviewed there and they never called me!” Then, as Richard fondly recalls, divine intervention stepped in and changed his life. No sooner were those words out of his mouth than his cell phone rang. Phoenicia called to ask if he would like a job!

With that foretelling phone call, Richard knew Phoenicia was where he needed to be and started working right away. He recalls how different the environment was from any job he’d ever had, and embraced his diverse surroundings. He learned to appreciate different cultures and is thankful for the friends he made from all different walks of life. Now an eager ambassador, Richard helps people step out of their comfort zone to try food with which they may not be familiar. His boundless energy and exuberant personality make him a shining star at Phoenicia!

Richard loves the Tcholakian family and counts them among his blessings. Very proud and honored to work for them, he glows when he talks about his encounters with each family member.

Hands down, Richard’s favorite dishes are Arpi’s salad with chicken shawarma and BREAKFAST. He especially likes our grits and eggs and encourages everyone to come visit him early for breakfast downtown.

The only flaw Richard seems to have is a love for the Cincinnati Bengals. Maybe a Texans’ winning season will sway him?