As the name suggests, there’s more to one of downtown Spartanburg’s newest businesses than just a selection of olive oils. Olive and Then Some is a culinary experience that owner Sandy Burn hopes will attract “foodies” and curious shoppers alike.
The shop opened on Magnolia Street in October — a sister store to Palmetto Olive Oil Co. in Greenville, which has been operating for three years. Burn said business has been even better than expected.
“There are a lot of foodies out there, and they want their food to taste like restaurant-quality food. I think it was something everybody felt they could treat themselves to,” Burn said. “… I’m hoping it’s going to show that a boutique-type business can survive in downtown Spartanburg and really make it a destination spot.”
The shop operates on a taste-first, buy-second philosophy. Store manager Sally Hite said every experience is personalized as shoppers are encouraged to try the products that appeal to their palate, but to also broaden their taste buds.
“It’s an experience,” Hite said. “We try to give everybody individual attention, making it really personable.”
Upon entry to the shop — accented with a tile entryway and rustic, brick walls — shoppers are offered a plate of bite-sized, fresh-baked ciabatta bread. It’s the perfect vehicle to sop up a taste of the store’s 20-plus traditional, flavored and gourmet oils, as well as the more than 20 aged white and dark balsamic vinegars. Best-sellers include organic Tuscan herb olive oil and the cranberry pear white balsamic vinegar.
For a truly unique experience, try a scoop of vanilla ice cream as a conduit. It pairs perfectly with the rich, fruity dark balsamics in flavors like strawberry and maple.
The selection of traditional oils changes every six months to represent a different hemisphere of the globe. The rotation ensures variety and, most importantly, freshness. Currently, the northern hemisphere is on tap, as the oils are produced in places like Italy, Spain, Portugal and California.
Burn said the natural health benefits (like antioxidants) from high-quality olive oils are numerous. She works with distributors to ensure the oils are processed at the optimal time to guarantee customers are getting the best tasting, best quality product.
She also insists that oils and vinegars not be pre-bottled. Only when a customer is ready to purchase is the product poured into a bottle, which, depending on size and product, ranges in price from roughly $11 to $39.
“You know what you get is exactly what you tasted,” Burn said.
Customers are encouraged to taste, mix and match to their heart’s desire, but employees are always on hand to offer guidance and suggest pairings — like the sweet and spicy combination of the pineapple white balsamic with the chipotle olive oil. Another favorite is the blood orange oil baked into rich, chocolaty brownies. Burn likes the depth the white truffle gourmet oil brings to a simple bowl of popcorn.
“I love that you can try the different flavors before you actually purchase. Everybody’s always so helpful and friendly,” said customer Terri Benson of Spartanburg, who loves the taste of the mushroom sage oil in scrambled eggs.
Cindy Poole of Spartanburg uses the oils and vinegars on salads and also to jazz up normally bland dishes, like rice.
“I was excited they decided to open in Spartanburg,” said Poole, who until recently traveled to the Greenville location to shop. “It’s made me really try new things when I cook at home.”
In addition to the selection of oils and vinegars, Olive and Then Some carries paintings, pottery and gift items crafted by local and regional artists.
The store is also available for evening events and private tastings.
Original article can be found here: http://www.goupstate.com/article/20140303/ARTICLES/140309904/0/search?p=2&tc=pg