Mohamad Tabaja, the son of Lebanese immigrants, stands for a portrait inside Basha Market, the ethnic grocery store in Charter Oak that his father opened nearly 18 years ago, and that he now manages.

Mohamad Tabaja

The Market Owner

Basha Market has been a fixture in a nondescript Charter Oak strip mall for almost 18 years. Mohamad’s father, an immigrant from Lebanon, grew up helping his own dad run a small grocery store back home. So when he brought the family to the Los Angeles area, Mohamad’s father decided to open up a food store here too, with the help of his sons. But only two years after the market opened its doors, Mohamad’s father passed away. “I’m trying to keep my dad’s thing going,” says Mohamad in his office, sitting below a smiling portrait of his father. “This place holds a special place in my heart and I’ve grown fond of this community.” Basha is one of the biggest halal markets in the area, with customers of all cultural backgrounds who come from throughout Southern California looking for imported goods and fresh produce that remind them of home. Mohamad has memories of helping his father. And now he has the same plans for his two-year-old son. “In a year, we’ll probably have him working at the meat department,” he says, with a grin.