Foodie’s Urban Market Owner Vic Leon, Sr. Has Passed Away

Took a Chance on the Neighborhood Years Ago, Remained Loyal to the End

Vic Leon Sr, who owned Foodie’s Market with his son Vic Leon, Jr., passed away suddenly on Monday due to an ongoing health condition that was not related to COVID-19.

Leon Sr., is survived by his wife, Gloria, his son Victor Jr., his daughter Danielle, and five grandchildren. His cousin, Arthur Leon, is the owner of American Crane & Hoist Company on Washington Street in the South End.

Vic Leon Sr. with Mayor Martin Walsh and Randi Lathrop during an awards ceremony for the Main Street program in 2017. Leon Sr. passed away suddenly at his home, and had been one of the earliest retailers to take a chance on the South End in the late 1990s.

Foodie’s has been in the South End for more than 20 years, after taking over ABC Market’s building, and also has a location in South Boston.

Leon Sr.’s family has always been in the South End, owning businesses in the neighborhood for more than 60 years. Leon Sr. had told the Boston Sun in 2017 that his grandfather kept horses on Albany Street before the stables burned down and would bring back supplies from the market with a cart—and said, “that’s probably where the grocery business began.”

Since it opened, Foodie’s has remained a local staple in the neighborhood, with many Southenders relying on it for fresh foods and supplies—and a neighborly feel that can’t be found at national chains. Leon also exclusively hired from the neighborhood and had a loyal base of employees that had been with him at the store for decades. This has been especially true in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many national chains were not able to keep up stock of highly sought-after items.

The Sun recently spoke with Leon Sr. and his son about the pandemic and how Foodie’s is keeping employees and shoppers safe, as well as making sure the store was stocked with essentials. Leon Sr. cared a great deal about his employees and made sure they were taken care of and remained safe while continuing to serve the South End.

“Foodies has remained a vitally important part of this community for decades, playing a particularly critical role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Jamie Fox of the Union Park Neighborhood Association said in a newsletter on April 22.  “We cannot thank the staff at Foodies enough for their unselfish service during these challenging months. By continuing to support Foodies as our everyday shopping choice, we will help Victor, Jr., who has been the store’s general manager, carry on his father’s imprint and legacy in terms of this neighborhood.”

Fox said that a private funeral will be held, however, “Gloria Leon has expressed the desire to hold a celebration of her husband’s life, open to all, once it becomes safe for such a special event.”      

Leon Sr. opened Foodie’s Markets in 1998 at its current location when the area had seven acres of vacant parcels and little retail stores or restaurants.

“He was such a cheerleader for the South End and was one of the first independent, family owned and local retailers that took a chance opening up a new supermarket selling organic foods, specialty meats and prepared foods on Washington Street,” said Randi Lathrop, who got to know him first as part of the Washington Gateway Main Street. “His family was Lebanese and he was born on Shawmut Avenue in the South Cove area. Vic also owned Washington Mall on MLK Boulevard in Roxbury and also had ownership in many food related businesses, restaurants and bakeries in Boston and Portland, ME.”

Lathrop said his commitment to the community and his employees was unmatched, and he often did many acts of kindness without seeking notoriety or attention.

“Vic always considered his Foodies employees his ‘family’ and his generosity and wonderful spirit will be truly missed,” she said.

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