An old-fashion grocery store with an international flair and a butcher shop is set to open in downtown Sanford by mid-summer.

Courtney Haton and Mo Abed are currently working with the city of Sanford to secure permits to open Habibis International Market at 112 W. 2nd St.

The couple lived in the Sanford for about five years before recently moving to Lake Mary. Haton said she was always looking for other grocery alternatives when her family lived in the historic district.

“Winn-Dixie was always convenient,” said Haton, “but I was always looking for better quality. I want to know where the stuff I’m buying comes from.”

To that end, Habbis will offer organic fruits and vegetables from a supplier near Ocala. “We do want to add some of the local farms as we grow,” Haton said.

The store will have a full butcher shop that will feature a wide selection of meats, as well as halal meats that confirm to Muslim preparation standards.

“Halal meats are very similar to kosher meats,” Haton said. “We’ll also carry non halal meats, including pork. Our daughter loves bacon, so we’ll have to sell bacon.”

Customers will be able to get bread, milk, eggs and fresh baked goods, as well as a variety of Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian and Russian food staples not found in big-box grocery stores.

Eventually the store will also offer to-go lunches with an international flavor.

“We won’t do it right away, but we do want to provide lunches with some of the international products we’re going to sell so people can taste some really great dishes,” Haton said.

Habibis – the name comes from an Arabic term of endearment – will offer something else you won’t find in big-box stores: home delivery.

“I think people really miss the old-fashion, hometown market,” Haton said. “That’s what we hope to create with Habibis.”

The couple who to hire about three employees to start, and they hope to open by July 4 weekend.

“We may be pushing it a little, but Mo’s birthday is in July so we would really like to be open by then,” Haton said.

Habibis has no online or Facebook presence at the moment, but anyone interested in contacting the couple can send an email to: HabibisInternationalMarket@gmail.com

– by Dan Ping

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