Celebrating the Moms of Farmers Market
The Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles has been a beloved Los Angeles landmark since it opened in 1934. More than 80 years after its grand opening, the Market continues to attract scores of locals and visitors.
But what is it that makes Farmers Market such an enduring place to visit? Merchants and patrons alike tell stories of how the Market played a key role in some of their favorite family traditions. Many guests remember accompanying a grandparent to a taping at CBS followed by lunch and shopping at the Market. Others talk about attending a favorite Market festival for years—or even decades—and now bringing their own children to celebrations they grew up with.
In fact, families are at the very core of our success. Itself a family-owned business, Farmers Market also heralds countless stories of multi-generational family ownership and employment, which is why Mother’s Day is a particularly special celebration for us.
Fabulous Farmers Market moms working alongside their children can be found at:
At Zia Valentina, business is a family affair for owners and sisters Naomi Kashi and Dorit Simone. In fact, they named the café after their Sicilian great-aunt. Regularly, their mother, Rachel and Dorit’s two daughters, Lia and Ana can be seen pitching in behind the counter. No matter who’s working, be sure to pick up their signature treat, the waffle shot—espresso served in a waffle cone—which has become a social media sensation and has even been featured on Food Network's Food Fortunes.
Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts
Anyone who visits famed Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts will likely recognize mother-daughter duo Irma and Eileen Iraguirre. Irma has been whipping up LA’s favorite donut for more than 30 years, having taken the job at Bob’s shortly after moving to Los Angeles from Guatemala. Behind the counter, she has been accompanied by son Randy and daughter Eileen. Although Randy is now pursuing a law degree at Northwestern University, Eileen continues to work alongside mom. So popular are the mother daughter duo, they even merited a mention in Melting Pot Food Tours Merchants We Love blog.
Singapore’s Banana Leaf
Diana Gazal, who learned to cook at her synagogue in Malaysia, became so adept at her craft, she once had a man to follow her across the Pacific Ocean for her tasty Singaporean dishes. Now she shares those recipes with a passionate Farmers Market following at the popular Singapore’s Banana Leaf. Diana, as well as her husband Isaac and son Michael, can all be seen working in the restaurant, which turns out some truly amazing Chicken Rendang - and there’s no need to cross an ocean to get it.
Helga Weiss keeps the family-owned Weiss Jewelry—founded by her late husband Leo, a Holocaust survivor— humming, along with the help of her son, Daniel and daughter-in-law Sara. Even her grandkids occasionally pitch in to help. Weiss Jewelry opened at the Market in 1998 and maintains its family roots. Helga can still be found behind the counter selling gorgeous jewelry hand-crafted by Daniel & Sara. Take a close look at the items on display, and you might even find a piece designed by one of Sara and Daniel’s young children.
Charlie’s Coffee Shop
Charlie Gilbert, of Charlie’s Coffee Shop, is just one of the merchants who grew up at the Farmers Market. After her family moved to LA from Texas during World War II, her mother began working at Douglas Aircraft, but then left after discovering the Farmers Market. Her mother took a job at a Market restaurant, while Charlie’s aunt worked at Manning’s Coffee Shop. Eventually her mom began working at Chris’ Coffee Shop (which is Charlie’s Coffee Shop today).
In high school, Charlie knew she wanted to work at Chris’ and lied about her age to get the job. She worked there throughout high school, although she eventually left to get married and raise three children. As her own children grew into teenagers, Charlie would come back and visit Chris, and tell him, “If you’re ever eager to sell, let me know.”
In 1976, Chris offered to sell, and Charlie jumped at the chance. Although she was nervous about owning her own business, her mom was still working there and helped her navigate the ins and outs of running the place.
A true family business, all three of Charlie’s kids have worked behind the counter of Charlie’s Coffee Shop, although daughter Katie works alongside her mom every day. Even Katie’s kids can be found lending a helping hand inside the shop.
China Depot, which opened at Farmers Market just after World War II, was purchased by Manny and Angie Chang in 1991. Their success at China Depot then led them to purchase Bryan’s Pit Barbecue, a few stalls away.
The Chang family, who emigrated from Hong Kong, were familiar with Farmers Market because they operated the commissary at nearby CBS Television City for years. Today Angie primarily works at China Depot, two stalls away from son David and his wife Nicole, who both also run daily operations for Bryan’s Pit BBQ. Although David & Nicole’s own children don’t yet work at Farmers Market, they can often be seen "volunteering," on-site while their parents and grandparents are working.
The Coffee Corner
Lilian Sears began working at The Coffee Corner in 1984, shortly after immigrating to the United States from El Salvador. Although she started as a counter person at the beloved stall, which is known for its coffee, teas, fruit drinks and freshly baked muffins and rolls, she was eventually offered the opportunity to buy the shop. She immediately applied for a small business loan at Gilmore Bank, where she met loan officer Mark Sears. Not only did she secure the loan, but she and Mark fell in love and got married. Today customers can still find Lilian running Coffee Corner with the help of her son, Rick, as well as her two sisters and her niece. Mark still drops by daily for a cup of joe and chat with his wife.
Although Sticker Planet is mostly run by Richard and Hilary Kraft, the store was founded back in 1991 by Richard and Hilary’s parents, Selma and Bernie Kraft. Although Bernie has since passed away, Selma can occasionally still be seen behind the counter, inspiring the creativity of young and old patrons alike.
A little known fact about Sticker Planet is that it was originally intended to be a rubber stamp store, but when Bernie met Andrea Grossman of Grossman’s Paper Company, he was inspired to add a sticker section. His idea was to sell stickers on rolls instead of individual sheets as was the custom at the time. And so a new trend was born. While Bernie could “market anything,” Hilary says it is mom, Selma, who is the creative one in the family. “The fact that [dad] ended up marketing something so creative is a function of [mom’s] influence,” said Hilary.