Photos by Ariana Allison

Bagels from New York come to Baton Rouge via Willow Grove’s new specialty grocer

Bagels from New York and wines from Europe are making their way to Baton Rouge via the new Mulberry Market in The Village at Willow Grove. This unique grocery store that sells everything from seltzer waters to olive oils opened quietly in February and hosted a grand opening, complete with bagel tastings and more, on March 3.

Inside this new shop, which overtook the former location of Giggles: A Children’s Boutique, shoppers will find a deli counter serving up bagel sandwiches; a large fridge holding seltzers, beers and wines; an extensive wine selection; various snacks and ingredients and two large coolers holding a selection of cheeses, butters and caviars.

Owner Faris Salameh says each of the items at Mulberry Market have been “hand-picked” by him and his family.

“We went through probably 200 hours picking every single little detail,” he says. “So, you’ll find a lot of smaller companies that couldn’t make it into the big box stores but deserve a spot there. And you’ll also find a lot of local farmers market fruit and veggies and eggs and milk.”

In the curated selection, shoppers will find many local items they can’t always find at the average grocery store, which Salameh says was one of the goals of opening the market. Many products are sourced from Europe, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and even the Balkans, he says.

Still, Salameh says the selection at Mulberry Market is intentionally curated and designed to be uncrowded, so that customers can shop comfortably and discover some new items, too.

“We want to make it very hand selected so you can find what you’re looking for and if not, we have five other options of that type of region, that type of wine, that grape or whatever it may be,” he says.

Though there are plenty of items to choose from inside this shop, Salameh recommends the caviar butter, which he says is one of the best things he’s tasted.

In addition to the imported wines and cheese, Salameh also sources the shop’s bagels from an authentic purveyor after falling in love with the New York-style pastry on a trip with his girlfriend, Noah. Mulberry Market receives half-baked bagels from New York City-based wholesale bakery Davidovich Bakery. Once the store receives the bagels, they are fully baked and served with housemade schmears or as a sandwich.

The shop also sells cheese and spinach pies, which are made daily by Salameh’s mother. He says they also plan to have a cold case of green options, like fresh salads, for customers to pick up for a quick and easy lunch.

The concept of Mulberry Market is something Salameh and his family have wanted to do for years. His family has lived close to the shop’s new storefront, which is one of the reasons Salameh says they are opening in The Village at Willow Grove.

“I (also) own an iced tea company,” he says. “It’s called Ruzi Lebanese Iced Tea. I would be selling to a lot of retailers and small mom-and-pop stores, and I loved it. I thought it would be a great idea and the neighborhood definitely needed it. My mom is a great cook and a great recipe maker—we had to share it with the public—and it kind of came through.”

The name Mulberry Market was even suggested by Salameh’s sister and the shop’s co-owner, Farah, who also serves as wine buyer.

“Mulberry is a fruit. When my siblings and I were young, we used to actually pick mulberry fruit off trees,” Salameh says. “It was kind of like a little Saturday thing we did … My sister just hit us with the name. We were all trying to think of one. My sister said ‘mulberry,’ and we were like ‘Oh! That’s the one!’’’

Mulberry Market is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. The deli is open daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. It is located at 8201 Village Plaza Court, Suite 1B.

This article originally appeared in a February 2023 edition of 225 Daily, the newsletter from our sister magazine, 225.