The new N&J Global Market next to N&J Cafe at Lincoln and Edgemoor opens on Thursday, about seven months after Bettina Tobassi started working on it.
“It’s been an effort,” Tobassi says. “There’s always something that happens, right?”
It’s an effort that Tobassi very much wanted to take on, though.
Tobassi, daughter of N&J Cafe owner Mona Srour, grew up in her family’s restaurant.
“I’ve done everything.”
That includes running it on her own for five years, “which was a huge learning curve.”
She’s gone back and forth between the restaurant and IT work.
“I got bored, I think. I was just ready for a change,” Tobassi says of her IT job.
“I got tired of sitting all day,” she says. “For the last three years or so, I’ve been contemplating leaving corporate America and doing my own thing.”
She saw an opportunity to expand on the market that had been at N&J.
“It lacked a lot of things people wanted,” Tobassi says. “It needed somebody really dedicated to keeping up with it.”
She’s about doubled the size of the market, which is in the same building as the cafe but is separate from the restaurant.
There are additional European products, especially Italian and Greek, and there’s an expanded line of Middle Eastern products as well as fresh produce, such as apricots and grape leaves.
Tobassi is still getting the market together, and the last two major food shipments will arrive the day she opens.
Since Wichita has a sizable Lebanese community, Tobassi thinks there will be plenty of interest in the market’s Middle Eastern products.
She also thinks cooks will enjoy exploring what other items she’ll have to offer.
“I’ll be taking customer feedback,” says Tobassi, who plans to adjust her inventory according to demand.
N&J Cafe won’t have any cooler items or other food for sale after the market opens, but those things will be available in the market.
Though it’s not a huge store, Tobassi still says she’ll have plenty of variety, such as at least 10 types of olive oil.
N&J Global Market will open at 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday. There’s no set closing time yet.
“I really want to play it by ear,” Tobassi says.
She says she’s still figuring out everything with the business, which is different than when she had an IT job.
“I wake up in the middle of the night and think of something I have to do,” Tobassi says.
“There’s a lot less headaches working for corporate America,” she says.
Though Tobassi is excited to be opening the market, she says it’s not like a 9-to-5 job that she can leave at the office.
“Here, it’s with me all the time.”