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    Sultan's Market Finds A Niche

    Chicago c-store finds success by offering authentic Middle Eastern food.

    CHICAGO -- When Sultan's Market first opened in 1984, the owners chose to offer recognizable foodservice such as hot dogs and Italian beef. But one day, owner May Ramli brought in fresh hummus she made at home and sales went through the roof. Since then, this convenience store has been known for its Middle Eastern food and draws a steady stream of new and return customers every day.

    Situated in the Ukrainian section of Chicago's South Side, the store features items such as mild and spicy falafel sandwiches, bowls of rice and lentils and spinach pie by the slice.
    According to Shadi Ramli, May's son, this foodservice line is the backbone of the business. "If it weren't, we wouldn't be here because the rent is so high," he explained.

    Customers often order hummus by the pound as well as lentil or chicken soups, and there is seating on the patio during the spring and summer. One customer commented, "This is the best place in the neighborhood. You should see the line out the door at dinner," reported the Chicago Tribune.

    The Market also sells typical convenience items such as candy bars and toilet paper, but it's grocer section includes ethnic items like packaged pita bread, tahini, olive oil and miso soup mix.

    Plans to expand their offerings are always in the mix. "This place is always changing," said Shadi Ramli. "We're always adding to it." In the next few months, the store will open a juice/coffee bar, and would like to sell T-Shirts, incense and body oils, and may occasionally offer live music.

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