Salha "Mama" Bobo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Salha Bobo
Born 1907
Aleppo, Ottoman Syria
Died 2001
Nationality Syrian-American
Other names Mama Bobo
Occupation Grocer, public figure

Salha "Mama" Bobo (1907–2001) was a Syrian-American Jewish businesswoman, philanthropist, and matriarch of the Bobo family, based in Tampa, Florida.[1]


Born in 1907[1] in Aleppo, Ottoman Syria, she lived there until the age of 14.[2] She emigrated to the United States as a teenager and lived in New York City, Jacksonville, Florida,[citation needed] and Macon, Georgia, where her grandmother found her a husband when she was 16. She married Ralph Bobo,[2] an Egyptian of Jewish heritage,[3] and started in the grocery business with her husband in Georgia in 1922.[1] The couple settled in Tampa in 1947,[2] particularly Ybor City, Tampa, Florida. After they moved to Ybor City, the couple bought the Blue Ribbon Market.[1] In 1949[2] three years later, Ralph died,[1] and Salha continued to run the store with her children,[2] later expanding to open a second store and three mini-marts.[1] The Bobo family bought the property for the Blue Ribbon Supermarket in 1967, and later sold it to Austrian developers after operating it for decades.[4]

In Tampa she became locally famous as a cookbook author and businessperson.[3] She has been the feature of numerous print and TV news stories, as well as a documentary about her life[citation needed] and an oral history memoir Mashala, The Life and Times of Salha Bobo.[5] Her cooking, blending Syrian and Southern American cuisine, has been covered in publications such as the Tampa Tribune. In 2002, her first grandchild published the cookbook Mezza & More, Syrian Fare With a Southern Flair, including hundreds of her recipes.[2]


Bobo died in 2001. She practiced Judaism, and was noted for remembering the birthdays of even her 50 great-grandchildren even in her old age.[1] She had seven children.[2] As of 2005, the Bobo family had 100 relatives in the Tampa Bay.[2] Her great-grandson is actor Jonah Bobo.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Norman, Rob; Jo Zerivitz, Marcia (October 21, 2013). Jews of Tampa. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781439644140. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Story on Salha Bobo's cuisine tradition, Tampa Tribune, 20 April 2005.
  3. ^ a b c "Jews in the News: Jonah Bobo, James Wolk and Francesca Segal". April 15, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  4. ^ Wexler, Kathryn; Gibson, Linda; Schweitzer, Sarah; Washington, Wayne. "Blaze rips through Ybor City landmark", St. Petersburg Times, 12 August 2000.
  5. ^ Mashala: The Life and Times of Salha "Mama" Bobo by author Salha Levy Bob, compiled by Alayne Unterberger, 1996

External links[edit]