Interbay Meat Market

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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 permitted.

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 counter.

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 wall.

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 South Tampa."

Featuring Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce