The Man Behind the Counter

Harvard Market Owner Mo Hamza Tells All


Eben Lowenstein

Hamza’s store is frequented by many CRLS students.

Leo Barron, Managing Editor

Harvard Market, a staple of CRLS student life since it opened in 2004, is best known for its owner, Mo Hamza. Since opening the store, Hamza has been committed not only to getting students their lunches but also creating a space in which students feel connected to the store. Many students are now used to the smiling owner when they buy their food and his favorite phrase, “For you, a special price.”

Hamza was born in Cambridge, but his family is from Syria, and it is easy to tell that his family’s country means a lot to him. Behind the counter, he has a sign that reads, “prays for Syria” and he is saddened by the terror his country is going through. “[Syria] became different than it was,” he says. “This is my home country, and even though I haven’t been there in a long time, I still have friends, cousins, and relatives that live there, and they are suffering from what’s happening.” While he did not digress into too much detail, it was clear that the war in Syria pains  him: “It’s been happening for over 10 years now and what the people are going through over there leaves me heartbroken.”

While Syria remains on his mind throughout the day, Hamza is still able to create a friendly space in Harvard Market. He prides himself on being part of the CRLS community and relies on students to help his business. “60% of all of our business comes from CRLS. When the school is open, and when the school closes, it goes down. We rely on CRLS big time: the students, the staff, the teachers.”

Broadway Market, a bigger store than Harvard Market, is just across the street from CRLS, yet the environment that Hamza has created in his store has many students coming to Harvard Market over Broadway. Dalila Salcedo ’21 says, “[Mo] seems like he really cares about the people who come into his store. He is always nice, and he even uses some CRLS slang which I think makes the store more fun. Every time I go there, after I pay, he says, ‘good looks,’ and I think that is hilarious.” This fun environment in Harvard Market is no accident either. Hamza says, “I enjoy talking to my customers. I enjoy making my customers my friends, especially the kids, I enjoy making them feel like they are a part of the community.” 

To many, the difference in the environment of Harvard Market compared to other stores around the school is noticeable to customers. Ian Rauh ’21 says, “I love Mo. He gives me deals on some of the things I get, and no other store does that. He is always super nice. One time I bought a candy bar that is usually $2, and he gave it to me for $1.50, which was really nice.” 

While many students love Harvard Market, Hamza seems to love his job just as much, saying, “I love the kids, and I love to talk to them about any subject. It really makes my job fun.” 

This piece also appears in our November 2019 print edition.