Markos Garabetyan

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Fresno Bee (California)
January 20, 2005, Thursday FINAL EDITION

Ohanyan's Corner Family-run deli has offered Armenian foods for 25 years.


The pungent smell of spices and the rhythmic thump of a sausage-making machine fill Ohanyan's Deli on a recent chilly morning. The small family-run delicatessen, market and manufacturing plant has been a fixture at Shields and West avenues for 25 years.

Markos Garabetyan kept the name of the previous owner when he bought the shop. A deli case is stocked with Armenian sausages made in the small manufacturing plant in the back of the building.

Garabetyan came to America from his native Turkey in 1976.

His son, Hayik Garabetyan, 32, has worked in the family business since he was 8. He left college to join the family business. The best education, he says, "is hands-on experience."

Hayik Garabetyan's uncle, Jerry Hancer, and cousin, Robert Hancer, also run the family business, which includes a plant at Ashlan and Valentine avenues where pasta and dried meat are made.

"We sell to all the other Armenian delis in town," Hayik Garabetyan says, and in turn Ohanyan's Deli carries pastries and breads from local Armenian bakeries.

The shelves at Ohanyan's are stocked with Armenian and Middle Eastern foods, including dry bulk lentils, rice, bulgur and garbanzo beans, cans of grape leaves, jars of Armenian cucumber pickles and preserves made from eggplant, pumpkin or rose petals.

The neighborhood has changed around the small shop.

"I've seen kids grow up here who come in," Hayik Garabetyan says, but his father expresses frustration at the way he says the neighborhood has shifted.

Walking out to the alley behind the store, Markos Garabetyan points to trash against his building and graffiti on a nearby fence.

"The rent is cheaper than up north, but my customers complain," he says about trash and panhandlers. "When I started, there was a lot of call for retail."

"Every day varies," Hayik Garabetyan says. "Sometimes it's busy. For the holidays, it's mainly for the products we sell."

But customers still come in for sandwiches. Above the counter is a sign advertising a lunch special: a turkey sandwich, soda and baklava for $4.

"You cannot buy that in town anywhere," says Markos Garabetyan with a grin. "We try to bring the customers. Is business trick."

The reporter can be reached at or or at (559) 441-6756.

GRAPHIC: PHOTOS BY TOMAS OVALLE -- THE FRESNO BEE Hayik Garabetyan makes a sandwich at Ohanyan's. Garabetyan has been in the family business since age 8. Shields and West avenues in Fresno is the site of Ohanyan's, which includes a deli, market and manufacturing plant.

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