By Jeff French Segall
Among the many reasons that Mani Market Place on Columbus Avenue and 94th Street has survived the competitive environment posed by nearby D’Agostino’s and Trader Joe’s is the warmth of the owners, brothers Taso and Taki Mangas. Taso, 62, takes the day shift and Taki, 64, is “the evening guy.”
They came to America from Greece when they were 10 and 12 years. They lived on 100th Street and Broadway and went to P.S. 75 and Joan of Arc Junior High School. They went to high school in Queens, and on to Queens College.
Monday, midday, the Rag watched while Taso answered animated questions posed by young children visiting the market from a neighborhood school. Taso said children from local schools often come to “interview” him.
On this day, the kids had their notebooks in hand, recording his answers to their questions: “How long have you been here?” (About 31 years.) “Do you own the store?” (Yes.) “What do you like about your job? (Everything.) “What do you sell the most of?” (Candy.) “They got a laugh out of that one,” Taso said.
“Who is Mani?” is a question Taso is often asked by the children. He explains that his family is from the town of Mani in Southern Greece, so the brothers named their store for their homeland. It’s easy to see how fond Taso is of his market and clientele, and how that warmth has made Mani Market Place the success it is.