OAKHURST — Mary and Mark Korakis are about to have hundreds of new neighbors — and they just can’t wait.
The couple run the Oakhurst Fruit Stand, a popular local business tucked into the hillside off Highway 41 just north of Oakhurst’s three new hotels which, when open later this year, will add a total of 324 new rooms to the local hotel room inventory.
“It seems like we’ve been watching them build those hotels forever,” Mary said this week. “We can’t wait for them to open. They will bring so many more people to the area, staying there and working there, too. We’re hoping many of those people will become our customers.”
The Korakises, who met in America but both immigrated to the U.S. from Greece as children, have been running the Oakhurst Fruit Stand since 2000. “Next year will be our 20th year in business,” Mary says. “Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this that long.”
But the couple say they have no plans of slowing down.
“We love what we’re doing,” Mary says as she watches her husband help a customer load a couple of sacks of produce into the back of a truck. “It’s hard work but we’ve always loved farming and bringing healthy and delicious food to the mountain area.”
“But the best thing of all is I’m my own boss,” Mary adds. “I can do whatever I want!”
More than 100 different varieties of fruits and vegetables are on sale at the roadside business — much of it grown on the couple’s farm in Mendota or on other family farms around the Valley.
“We sell grapes, melons, figs, all of the stone fruits,” Mary says.
But if there’s a single item that draws customers to return again and again to the fruit stand, it’s the Korakises’ tomatoes.
“Tomatoes are our specialty,” Mary says. “All the locals love our tomatoes. They’re vine-ripened, not like store-bought plastic tomatoes. They taste wonderful.”
Currently, Mary is selling boxes of beefsteak tomatoes, which she said are in season right now.
The fruit stand, open seven days a week during the summer, also offers a wide array of other products, including nuts and cheese. “I have the best Feta cheese. Obviously, that has nothing at all to do with me being Greek,” Mary jokes.
The fruit stand has a loyal local customer base and also draws steady business from tour buses streaming along Highway 41 in and out of Yosemite National Park.
“Honestly, I love everything about this business,” Mary says. “I’m a people person. I talk a lot and I really like talking with my customers. We have regulars who stop in every year on their way to the park. They’re like family. Maybe I don’t remember their names right away but I always remember their faces.”