Massaud Salem opened Salem’s Market and Grill 40 years ago to make high quality halal produce accessible and affordable at a time when Pittsburgh offered few other options.
Today, his son Abdullah says nothing has changed.
“I’ve always been with him, I’ve always been his understudy,” Salem says. “The whole basis of the business is to make sure people have access to fresh, healthy, affordable food.”
This principle, pursued steadily over several decades, led city officials this year to declare July 17 Abdullah Salem Day in Pittsburgh. The business also announced plans to open a second location in the Hill District, where they’ve pledged to serve the community with the same mission that made them a Strip District institution.
To Salem, running a meat and produce store has never been about generating wild profits. Instead, he says it’s a way to give back.
From its earliest days, many clients have been immigrants who Salem says are often vulnerable and taken advantage of by other merchants who frequently sell foreign imports well above retail price. Salem has employed five Afghan refugees this year and frequently distributes free meat and groceries to new arrivals in the form of a welcome box.
“When you serve food in the city, you are uniquely intermeshed with people’s lives, and you see the challenges people are facing in their community,” Salem says.
Salem's Market & Grill. 2923 Penn Ave., Strip District. salemsmarketgrill.com