Inspiring Okeechobee: Ouf brothers care about their customers

OKEECHOBEE — Becoming a successful business owner is difficult on its own, but imagine doing it in a country where the language is not your native language, and the culture is not your native culture. Brothers, Omar and Fahed Ouf have done exactly that. Born in Puerto Rico, but of Middle Eastern descent, they came to Florida as young boys but then spent several years in the Middle East because their parents wanted them to learn that language and culture.

Afterward, they returned to Florida where they both worked in a grocery store for several years before obtaining the opportunity to open their own business, El Primo Supermarket on Northeast Park Street, in January of 2017.

Omar Ouf is pictured with El Primo’s head cashier Norma Bustos. Special to the Lake Okeechobee News.

El Primo Supermarket is a hidden treasure right here in Okeechobee where they offer a little bit of everything, from boots to work clothes to fresh baked goods to 27-inch stainless steel pots! Linda Hamideh, Fahed’s wife explained, the Ouf brothers’ goal is to bring their customers comfort and joy, no matter what it takes. They also make it a point to hire people who know what they are doing. They have about 15 employees, and Linda says they couldn’t do it without them. She says they function like a family.

Many of their customers are agricultural workers who are far from home and have no way to cook food. Every day their buses stop between 4:30 and 7 a.m. and the workers buy their lunches. Several women cook fresh food in a kitchen at the rear of the store every single day beginning at 4 a.m. and sometimes earlier if they have any special requests. The cooks are all experienced and know what the customers want. Linda said her husband often delivers to the ag workers in the evening because he knows they have no way to go anywhere once the bus drops them off, and he tries to help them if he can. “When they come here, we want it to be like home,” says Linda.

El Primo has an on-site butcher who cuts all the meat for the store fresh daily. They stock everything from ribeye steaks to chicken legs to menudo. He also cuts up game animals or farm animals for customers.

Fresh tortillas, Tres Leche cakes, hoagie rolls, churros, birthday cakes and much more are baked fresh every day by an on-site baker and his son who came here from Orlando specifically to work for the brothers in the on-site bakery where they have a huge electric tortilla machine which takes up almost an entire room and came all the way from Mexico.

Food is served from an outdoor taco stand until 10 p.m. every day, and they have produce delivered fresh from Plant City. The Ouf family has tried to think of everything to make their customers feel special. They offer free coffee, free bagged ice, check cashing services and you can even send money or pay your bills while you are there. You name it, and El Primo probably does it.

If you are looking for a unique, hard-to-find item or just want somewhere new to have a quick dinner, check El Primo out. They may have just what you are looking for, and you will definitely enjoy meeting the Ouf family.

 

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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