Jeffrey Aivazian worked so long and hard at The Meat Market that he evolved from a butcher into a “meat artist.” A 1979 Fresno Bee story titled, “The sausage sculptor,” related how his passion for meat inspired him to carve bulk sausage into hogs’ heads for his eager patrons. It was a talent he would pass on to his son, Mark Aivazian, who now helps run the family business in Fresno and Clovis.
After decades of selling meats of all kinds, Mr. Aivazian died May 28 at the age of 63. While he could handle meat, family said he primarily worked as a businessman advancing the company through his savvy business sense.
He started learning the butcher business as a child from his father, Leo Aivazian, who opened The Meat Market in 1976 with Al “Pappy” Papulias and Harry Smith. Leo Aivazian became sole owner soon after the deaths of his business partners, and Jeffrey Aivazian took the helm in the 1980s after his father’s retirement.
Mr. Aivazian’s ambitions started young.
“At 8 years old, he’d go down the street to the gas station or the liquor store and say, ‘Find me a job! What can I do?” recalls Karyn Aivazian-Robertson, Mr. Aivazian’s sister. “He’d put boxes in the incinerator and they’d give him 50 cents or a dollar.”
He was very motivated, very driven. My dad was not a lazy guy. He would wake up and if he had an idea in his head, he would keep going with it until in fruition.
He was working alongside his dad by the time he was in middle school. Years later, his own son started working for him around the same age.
“Since I was a little kid, about 12 years old, I was seasoning tri-tip and marinating shish kabobs. … It’s something I take pride in,” Mark Aivazian said.
Mr. Aivazian’s hard work was bolstered by his knowledge of finance, graduating from Fresno State with a degree in economics. The Meat Market expanded under his leadership, opening new storefronts in Fresno and Clovis.
“He wanted to always give a quality product at a good price, and I think that’s what we’ve done over the years,” his son said.
Friends and family also recall him as a compassionate family man, an animal lover, a giving philanthropist who supported many organizations and Armenian causes – often anonymously – and a jokester who took great enjoyment in teasing friends and pulling pranks on them out on the golf course.
He was a very big-hearted genuine friend.
His longtime friend Eddie Arakelian wants people to “remember what a kind, giving, caring person he was.
“He was always the first that wanted to grab the bill and do something nice for somebody.”
Born: Aug. 27, 1953
Died: May 28, 2017
Occupation: Owner of The Meat Market
Survivors: Daughter Michelle Aivazian-Sanders; son Mark Aivazian; sister Karyn Aivazian-Robertson; and nieces, nephews and cousins.
Memorial service: 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 7 at New Harvest Church, 698 N. Minnewawa Ave., Clovis.
Remembrances: Ani Guild of California Armenian Home, care of Treasurer, 7378 W. Tenaya Ave., Fresno, CA 93723 and Central California SPCA, 103 S. Hughes Ave., Fresno CA 93706.
Condolences: Whitehurst, Sullivan, Burns & Blair Funeral Home, 1525 E. Saginaw Way, Fresno or online at whitehurstsullivan.com.