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Interbay Meat Market is South Tampa's
premier meat market and deli sandwich shop. "The Green Store" has
been locally owned and operated since 1985.
In 1985, after
saving $5,000, Hani Shoubaki and his wife, Maria, purchased the
former Interbay Market located near Interbay Boulevard and MacDill
Avenue. Even back then, the neighborhood business was referred
to by locals as the "Green Store," thanks to the building's painted
green exterior. Initially, Shoubaki and his wife were the only
two employees, working grueling hours seven days a week.
In 1990, Shoubaki's brother, Mohammed, also
relocated to Tampa. He intended to stay and help his brother and
sister-in-law with the store for five years, but his plans changed
when he fell in love, married and began building his own life here.
The original Interbay Market was built in
1942 at 2,000 square feet and operated as a convenience store and
sandwich shop. Over the years, the Shoubakis added onto the
old building and bought adjacent land parcels as their finances
In 1998, the old store was demolished and
the current 10,000- square-foot Interbay Meat Market was built in
its place. Ever mindful of their customer's nickname for the store,
they had the new structure painted green.
The store features a butcher shop and
specializes in meat, offering ribeye, porterhouse, and 1 1/2- to
2-inch thick T-bones. Influenced by his wife's Cuban heritage,
the store also features traditional items such as roast pork, yellow
rice and chicken, and Cuban sandwiches. With breakfast served
throughout the day, the market's cafe con leche has become popular.
Many of the same customers have patronized
the Green Store faithfully over the years, and Shoubaki, 48, has
watched their children grow up. Melissa Bodessa was raised in
the local neighborhood and still patronizes the store nearly every
day. Now 31, she has been a customer since she was 9, and the store
even catered her first wedding in 1993. "It's like a family," she
says. "Everybody knows everybody."
In addition to himself, his wife, and
brother, other family members working at the store include Maria's
mother, Elisa Lopez, and the Shoubakis' oldest son, Sam.
Shoubaki and his brother now split the day. Shoubaki manages the
store from its 6 a.m. opening until midafternoon when Mohammed
relieves him, overseeing things until closing time at 11 p.m.
The Green Store frequently caters events and
meetings for MacDill Air Force Base. Multiple framed certificates of
appreciation from divisions such as the U.S. Special Operations
Command and U.S. Central Command hang on a wall near the checkout
When Hurricane Charley rumbled through in
2004, Shoubaki heeded warnings from local authorities and closed his
store. Worried, however, that his neighborhood customers would
not be able to get the supplies they needed, he reopened. A
thank-you note from a grateful customer also hangs on the store's
After 23 years in business, the market still
takes up most of Shoubaki's time, but he doesn't mind. "I am
extremely happy, exactly where I want to be. I have a loving family
and a prosperous business. ... I couldn't be any happier," he says.
A classic example of a man living the American dream, he adds,
"Thank God for this country, and the people of this country, and
Featuring Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce