For almost ten years, Mediterranean Mart has been bringing culture and flavor to the greater Peoria area.
“It’s a pleasure to serve people and when we see customers are happy, that gives you a great pleasure,” said Saeed Yousef, the owner of Mediterranean Mart in Peoria. For him, entrepreneurship is a way of life. It runs in his blood.
“My dad is a businessman and he’s here in the United States now. But he taught me the principle of the business,” Yousef said.
From his roots in Syria to now in Peoria, Yousef says it’s those fundamental lessons that he’s carried with him as the owner of the store.
He said, “We enjoy providing customers with items—unique items, items that are hard to find.”
But owning a grocery store wasn’t always in the cards for Yousef. He says he moved to the United States from Syria in 2002, earning a second bachelors degree and doing clinical lab science work at a Peoria hospital.
“Within a year, I changed careers. I changed a career to business,” he said.
Yousef says the drastic change has brought him happiness. He now works alongside his small but mighty staff of five selling Mediterranean produce and other products to the greater Peoria area. The store serves as a cultural connection for minority populations in the area.
“Peoria had ethnic groups. The Lebanese and the people from [sic] they’ve been here 100 years,” said Yousef. “So they used to go to Chicago and buy those unique items. Not anymore. We bring those items here.”
In June of 2019, Mediterranean Mart will celebrate 10 years in business. It’s a quickly approaching milestone Yousef says is all thanks to customers.
“Always follow your dream. Always follow the fun. So it’s not just making living. Where do you find yourself? That’s the goal,” he said.