Middle Eastern culture gains momentum at new locale

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By M.V. Moorhead

If you’ve been to Baiz Market Place in Phoenix, you know it’s a well-stocked Mediterranean/Middle Eastern bakery, deli and market.

But it won’t prepare you for the experience of the new East Valley Baiz, which opened late last month at Baseline and Dobson in Mesa.

The downtown Phoenix Baiz is a careworn building on an unprepossessing block of 20th Street, just north of Van Buren. It often bustles with customers, most of them likely there for the selection, not for the charm of the drab building.

The Mesa Baiz, by contrast, is a bright, spacious, cheery emporium. It’s housed in the shell of a former Bashas that required a lot of work to bring to its current state.

“We took the building a long time before we opened,” says manager Sarah Soueidan. “If you saw the place before, you wouldn’t believe it.”

The effort paid off. Baiz on Baseline isn’t just reliably utilitarian; it’s a pleasure to walk around and browse, and also to sit down for a meal.

Transparency is a big feature of the new store’s design—it offers visitors a clear view of areas that are, in most stores, behind the scenes.

“We tried to have it so the customers can watch the process,” says Soueidan.

“You can see how the pita is made. With the store downtown, the bakery is way in the back…Same with the rest, people can be watching how we make the shawarma, or how we soak the chickpeas overnight for the falafel.”

Said shawarma and falafel are available not only at the deli counters but at an in-store restaurant, Al-Hana, along with a mouth-watering menu of kababs, sandwiches and salads, and breads and exotic, elaborate sweets at the bakery.

All of the deli and restaurant products, notes Soueidan, are Halal, that is, prepared in such a way as to be permissible for Muslims (roughly equivalent to Kosher in Judiasm).

Asked if she has a favorite among the restaurants offerings, Soueidan is equivocal:

“I like the falafel…the shawarma…” Then she chuckles, “I like everything.”

In addition to tables near the Al-Hana counter, there is a seating area upstairs, commanding a nice bird’s-eye view of the groceries. What you’ll see from up there is a mix of East and West.

Shelf upon shelf is stocked not only with standard groceries but with stuff you’d probably have a hard time finding anywhere else in the Valley.

On one side of an aisle you can find Cheerios and Lucky Charms; on the other, Mamoul and Gata Nazook (and reduced sugar Gata Nazook!).

What, exactly, are Mamoul and Gata Nazook? I’m not sure, but they definitely look delicious.

As to the philosophy behind stocking BAIZ, Soueidan, a native of Lebanon who came to the business after working in car sales and pharmacy, states
it simply: “It’s all based on whatever we want, as customers.”


Baiz Market Place is at 1858 W. Baseline Road, Mesa, at the northeast corner of Baseline and Dobson. Call
480-718-9227 or go to baizmarket.com for details.



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