California-based olive oil retailer We Olive has opened its first East Coast franchise in the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Boerum Hill.
The new store owners, Angelo and Patricia Incorvaia, grew up in the neighborhood. On offer are forty extra virgin olive oils produced in California and certified by the California Olive Oil Council that guests can sample and purchase in bottles or in bulk.
Staff are on hand to provide customers with information about each variety of olive oil, share facts about how the olives are grown, harvested and processed, and offer suggestions.
We Olive already has olive oil bars in California, Nevada, and Texas — all of which promote and sell predominantly California olive oils. The Brooklyn outlet also houses a wine bar serving artisan wines from California and local beers, and a selection of gourmet foods like tapenades, mustards, pestos, and balsamic vinegars.
Frank Mercurio, We Olive owner and managing partner, described the We Olive & Wine Bar concept as “a fun, healthy and delicious culinary experience where family, friends and neighbors gather to enjoy great food and wine.”
“All our extra virgin olive oils are available for complementary tasting every day,” explained Mercurio. “Guests are encouraged to enjoy the ‘olive oil experience’ as they’re welcomed into the store. It can be a formal tasting at our olive oil tasting bar or, if they prefer, guests can wander through the store and taste on their own.”
There are also flavored olive oils infused with rosemary, garlic, basil and blood orange.
We Olive aims to educate customers not only about about olive oil but also its health benefits. “We provide in-house and consultant-led training on how to incorporate extra virgin olive oil into one’s diet,” said Mercurio. “We have three formally trained chefs on our corporate staff and our store owners and staff are trained on the various health benefits of extra virgin olive oil.”
A We Olive & Wine Bar franchise costs $30,000, Mercurio said, and offers multiple streams of revenue: the retail component, the wine bar and a small plates menu.
Olive oil tasting bars are among the fastest-growing retail trends in the U.S. and abroad with hundreds of stores opening in recent years.
Many of the olive oil specialty shops are supplied by California distributor Veronica Foods, which sources olive oils throughout the world, including from the NYIOOC award-winning producers Cobram Estate, Melgarejo, Oliperu and Oro Bailen.
Last month, a Midwestern (U.S.) olive oil merchant with seven locations, pitched his business on the popular American television show Shark Tank with the aim of expanding his franchise.
In the United Kingdom last summer, a ban of such “fill-your-own” shops was announced, when the Rural Payments Agency updated its “Olive oil regulations and inspections” after Article 2 of Commission Regulation 29/2012, as interpreted by a 2006 decision by the European Court of Justice, disallowed the sale of all unflavored olive oils on tap, the agency said.