O’Malia Food Markets founderworked nearly his entire adult life in the retail grocery business. In the years leading up to World War II, O’Malia graduated high school and became a stock boy at Kroger, working his way up to store manager before moving on to the locally owned Stop and Shop stores. From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, O’Malia co-owned Roth’s Food Market and served as a manager of Preston’s Food Market. At Preston’s, he met Danny Barton who would become his longtime business partner.
At the age of 46, O’Malia opened his own store, O’Malia’s Food Markets, in March 1966 at 10450 College Avenue, choosing the location based on the growth of the city’s north side. The store and franchise grew to become a financial success, allowing O’Malia to expand his operations to numerous O’Malia’s Food Markets throughout the city.
In 1986, O’Malia opened the only full-service grocery store in the downtown area, housed in the former Sears Roebuck building on North Alabama Street. By the mid-1990s, the chain had grown to eight stores and one bakery, located primarily on the north side of Indianapolis with a corporate headquarters in Noblesville.
While O’Malia himself died in 1996, his children were able to maintain the company until they sold it toin 2001. Although Marsh retained the O’Malia’s brand as their high-end groceries, Marsh’s financial struggles and bankruptcy in 2017 brought the closure of the various O’Malia’s stores as well. The last O’Malia’s (its 126th Street location in Carmel) closed on July 8, 2017.