A member of the Phoenicia team for 21 years, Ruth has seen a lot of changes in the store during that time. She started at Arpi’s Deli and has worked in many of the departments at Phoenicia. She eventually made her way to manager of the hot grill, where she is happiest. While Ruth has worked with so many great people, her favorite will always be Richard Willis. She loved working with Richard and was sad when he moved to the Phoenicia Downtown location. Ruth feels a family bond with her teammates and considers them her “work family.” Also feeling a bond with customers, Ruth has been their acquaintance for many years, often seeing kids grow up and bringing in their own children!
Ruth grew up in Mexico and remained there after her brothers had moved to Houston. She dreamed of coming to Houston and was so excited when she finally had a chance to move here, right away she began working as a cashier in a Mexican Café but she longed for more. She knew someone who was working at Phoenicia and they were very happy, they talked about their job in the most positive ways and it made her really want a job here but she wasn’t confident in her cooking or her language skills and was afraid it was going to be a challenge. When she finally applied, her desire to work was evident and she was hired, it was her dream come true! Ruth was excited in her new position and went to school to study and learn so she could be a stronger member of the Phoenicia Team.
Though different cultures and languages can sometimes be difficult, Ruth really tries to connect with customers. She is sympathetic to language boundaries and will often use her version of sign language to direct or satisfy a customer’s needs. In her wildest dreams she never thought she would learn so many customs! One thing she notes is that every country and nationality can agree on one thing…delicious food! She laughs as she says that everyone loves Shawarma! Shawarma was the first food she tried at Arpi’s. It is the healthiest sandwich. She smiles sheepishly as she said that on her second day she saw falafel and thought “What is that?!?” she nibbled a bite and fell in love with them! Her love of food is contagious and she wants everyone to share her passion. If she notices that people seem hesitant to try a shawarma she will describe it in ways they may relate to, in fact she often describes it like a burrito! And even though Ruth has worked here for so many years she NEVER gets tired of eating Shawarma!
Ruth dreams have been realized with a city and a job that she loves and she feels it just gets better and better. Ruth loves creating foods and is especially proud of the soup she makes for the hot grille menu, and she positively beams when she says, “I am proud of the job and I am happiest when Mr. Bob is happy!”
Ruth’s eyes sparkle and her smile is huge as she talks about Phoenicia. “Something holds you here”, she comments earnestly. The Tcholakian Family, the customers, her co-workers and Mr. Bob… they make you feel special.
Come experience the food and atmosphere that dreams are made of here, at Phoenicia!
As owner and founder of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Zohrab Tcholakian oversees operations and quality control. He is the creative lead and visionary in the growth of the family-owned business. Zohrab also contributes to the architecture and design of Phoenicia facilities.
Upon immigrating with his wife Arpi to the United States in 1978, Zohrab held a position in architectural engineering at Bechtel Corporation. These skills have influenced his current position as he has contributed to the design of Phoenicia Specialty Foods West Houston, Arpi’s Phoenicia Deli, Phoenicia Specialty Foods Downtown and MKT Bar.
Zohrab comes from a long line of family in the food business, working for his parents within their small corner shop market in Lebanon as a child. Both of his brothers are also in the food business and his three children currently hold management positions at Phoenicia Specialty Foods.
Zohrab is a philanthropist to St. Kevork Armenian Church. In his spare time he enjoys cooking and spending time with his grandchildren.
As owner and founder of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Arpi Tcholakian has created a domain where devoted diners have flocked for her signature recipes since 1983. In addition to creating original recipes for Arpi’s Phoenicia Deli and the Phoenicia Specialty Foods prepared foods section, Apri oversees operations, quality control and manages Arpi’s Phoenicia Deli.
Arpi is the force behind the delicious entrees, including the famed Phoenicia Shawarma Wraps, Arpi’s Salad and Arpi’s Walnut Baklava. In 2010, Phoenicia Specialty Foods renamed their Mediterranean eatery, Arpi’s Phoenicia Deli, as a tribute to the family matriarch for her tireless dedication to the business and the countless number of customers she has touched over the past three decades.
Arpi is a graduate of American University of Beirut and is currently a philanthropist to St. Kevork Armenian Church. She has three children, all of whom hold management positions at Phoenicia Specialty Foods, and two grandchildren. In her spare time she enjoys gardening and the theatre.
Having worked at Phoenicia Specialty Foods since its inception, Raffi Tcholakian serves as Phoenicia Specialty Foods Operations Manager. In this position, Raffi manages the Phoenicia Specialty Foods IT network and software. He also oversees the market’s wholesale accounts, which total 1,000 servicing Texas and the surrounding states while managing Phoenicia’s Imports department. Prior to becoming the wholesale manager, he started the wholesale accounts division, expanded the West Houston market to a larger location and contributed to the addition of Arpi’s Phoenicia Deli.
Raffi holds a psychology degree with a business minor from the University of Houston. In his spare time, Raffi enjoys training for the MS 150 and other cycling races. A lover of music, if there is classic rock playing in the market, Raffi is more than likely working in the back office. He is married with two children and is a charter member of SEARCH Homeless Services.
Phoenicia Specialty Foods Wine and Beer Manager, Haig Tcholakian, manages the buying of select wine and beers for the Downtown and West Houston locations as well as MKT Bar. In addition, Haig oversees the selection of MKT Bar menu items. His specialty lies in finding boutique wines and beers from around the world from areas lesser known for these products such as Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean and the Americas.
In 2006, Haig returned to the family business after he worked in the corporate finance group at Moody’s Investors Service in New York City. Prior to this, Haig was a risk analyst on the trading floor at Reliant Resources in Houston.
Haig’s world travels greatly influence his position as the wine and beer manager. He has traveled to France to study Bordeaux wines, Lebanon and Syria to visit exporters and Japan for business and design ideas. Haig holds a Bachelors Degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin.
Her laugh is contagious, her enthusiasm captivating. Like the downtown staff she leads, Adrienne aims to consistently deliver a great customer experience. How does she juggle a multitude of responsibilities and stay so darn cheerful? True love. Phoenicia’s a special place for customers because it’s special to Adrienne and her team. She prefers to describe herself as a steward, acknowledging that it’s easy to manage when you have the best employees.
“I’m all about being upbeat and creating a memorable experience,” she says with hearty conviction. “When we enjoy what we do and work together, our store shows it and our customers feel great.”
Nothing makes her happier than customers taking ownership of the store. Adrienne regularly witnesses customers showing around their friends and families, like Phoenicia is their own little secret. She’s especially tickled when they ooh and ah over delightful aromas that greet them in the store.
For more than a month, Adrienne sampled Phoenicia’s culinary treasures–without eating the same foods twice. She recommends Labne yogurt as “wonderful to smear on anything.” Bayou City Sliders get a nod of endorsement, as does Steak & Tango Night from her husband. It’s just common sense to her. “All the food here is fabulous because the people behind it are absolutely amazing.”
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.
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 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!
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