The Mono Market has been owned and operated by Chris I. Lizza since the Spring of 1999. Chris grew up in nearby Mammoth Lakes and has worked for many years there as a chef and professional ski patroller. He has an undergraduate degree majoring in political science, a graduate degree in business, and is a licensed attorney.
He also serves the local community as a Mono County Planning Commissioner, a Captain on the Lee Vining Fire Department, the Treasurer of the Mono Basin Historical Society, and a Board Member of Friends of the Inyo. His goal is to have a viable summer business that allows him to pursue a ski patrol career in the winter.
One of the really fun aspects of the Mono Market is the terrific
history of the business. Families both local and visiting have been
shopping here for generations, and we love hearing stories about the
Bob Currie started the Market as a little meat house in 1927. At the
time, the property was developed on a Forest Service lease with a
campground where the Lakeview Motel sits. The market at that time
consisted of the small concrete building that is presently being used
as an employee break room in front of Chris’ converted office.
Bill Banta arrived in the Basin in 1933. He sold produce throughout the region which he drove up from Bishop. He later acquired the property where the Market and the Lakeview Motel are now located. The Banta’s business was boosted by the operations of LADWP at West Portal which was a thriving community until the diversion tunnel under Mono Craters was completed in the early 1940s.
On April 11, 1941, Bill sold the Market to his meat cutter, Harry Blaver.
The Blaver family expanded the business exponentially, driving trucks
over to the Central Valley to pick up products as there were few vendors
in the local area. Blaver also supplied many of the nearby fishing resorts
during the summer season. Harry was much loved in the community due
to his generosity, his constant smile and his ability to remember everyone’s
name. He always had a good clean joke, and sent secret valentines to the
local widows every year. Harry passed away in 2000 but is survived by
family members who retain links to the area.
Such history is relevant to our current operation and the community not
because the pioneers were any smarter or because they did everything
right in the “good old days,” but because our history is the foundation
on which we build. The Market, and our community, is an ongoing
project in which we are all partners. Change is not only inevitable, but
imperative. The easy road would be to operate the store as it was back
in the 1950s, and invest nothing in our community. But we can do better:
by improving the Market inside and out, making it more attractive and
inviting, to our community and its visitors. Improvements honor our pioneers who did so much with so little.
For more information about our local history, visit our Mono Basin History Museum.