An olive oil importer based in Columbus is offering olive oils from Greece and Italy, as well as Turkey, Chile, and South Africa, online and at select local retailers.
In addition to traditional extra virgin olive oil, The Olive Orchard sells oils flavored with basil, garlic, thyme, lemon, orange, and hot red pepper, tasting kits, and sampler kits. Olive Orchard products are sold at Beehive Bread Co., House Wine, Huffman’s Market, The Hills Market, Twisted Vine Shop, Weiland’s Gourmet Market, Whole Foods Market Dublin, and through Local Yokel Foods delivery service.
“For people seeking easy entertaining ideas, healthier meals, or thoughtful gifts, olive oil is the solution,” says Jeff Boothman, one of The Olive Orchard’s owners.
“We see ourselves as a conduit, helping customers discover the remarkable flavor, health benefits, and versatility of premium olive oil,” he adds.
Read our interview with Caroline Haskett, another Olive Orchard owner, to learn how the company has grown since its initial launch six years ago, whose feedback matters most, and when the public will be able to buy Olive Orchard’s latest product.
Melanie McIntyre: When was The Olive Orchard launched?
Caroline Haskett: The Olive Orchard was founded in 2004 by cousins of current owners. It was refreshed and relaunched in 2010. We were inspired to invest and grow The Olive Orchard because we all believe in knowing the story and origin of our food. We also analyzed the market prior to investing in The Olive Orchard. Demand for olive oil is growing. Americans consumed 70 million liters of olive oil in 2009− 8 percent more than the year prior. Authentic extra virgin olive oil is delicious and healthful. Who doesn’t want to eat well and live longer? When it comes to EVOO, fresh is better. We provide value to our customers by offering a collection of premium olive oils, all single-origin and with a variety of flavor profiles.
MM: When you decided to relaunch The Olive Orchard, what were some of the first steps you took?
CH: First priority was to define our brand and what it meant to us and to our customers. In essence, orchard to table authenticity and freshness. It’s about a relationship with our growers, then conveying their passion, skill and artistry to our customers. The company was founded with one grower− the Dimarakis family in Greece, the grower and producer of our Greek and Organic Greek extra virgin olive oil. Before we relaunched, we built relationships with additional award-winning growers that fit our orchard to table philosophy. Also a priority for relaunch: our web presence. Not only was the company’s old online storefront a challenge to navigate, it was also limited to very basic product information. Our newly designed webstore highlights grower stories, flavor profiles, olive cultivars, and suggested uses for every single product. We want our customers to know exactly where their olive oil is coming from and share in our grower relationships.
MM: How do you go about developing relationships with growers?
CH: We partner with only a handful of carefully selected growers from around the world– currently six. A founder of The Olive Orchard who lives in Greece befriended two growers directly. Also, potential partners are identified through the professional publication Flos Olei. From there, we connect with the grower for samples and supporting documentation. With every harvest, we reassess rankings and quality.
MM: Who helped you grow the company?
CH: Each of our owners bring unique skills to the table to grow the company. Jeff Boothman has great experience in global logistics, which is invaluable for bringing product from overseas. Jeff Haskett has deep technology experience that was helpful in getting the website squared away. Kieren [Metts] brought direct sales experience and prior history with The Olive Orchard. I have an eye for detail and business process design. It all comes together for us as a team. We were also fortunate to source some local experts who got really excited about the company: Keith Morgan of Buckledown Interactive who helped with design; Jennifer Rose and Rich Sharick who shot beautiful images; and Michele Mooney who has been instrumental in getting the word out about The Olive Orchard.
MM: Did you have any other local advisers, role models, or mentors you relied on for advice and input?
CH: Jeff [Boothman] and Jeff [Haskett] are long time friends who have advised and mentored each other over decades and often discussed owning a business together. Also, Brad Dunnington, principal with Lazear Capital and CEO of Gooseberry Patch, has been a valued source of advice and inspiration to the Jeffs. Amy Lozier at Omega Artisan Baking was an amazing source of support in helping us experience success at The North Market. We also rely on, and love, receiving advice and feedback during demos at retail partners and at The North Market and through networks like Facebook and Twitter.
MM: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as business owners and how did you overcome it?
CH: Our biggest challenge has been no different than many growing businesses: not enough time and resources! We have so many things we want to do, and so many great ideas, but we have to constantly choose where to focus our precious time and energy. We’ve been blessed to receive great response and help everywhere we turn, but we still face tough choices and the reality that there are only 24 hours in a day. We overcome it by being patient with ourselves and our mistakes. It’s a learning process!
MM: How often does The Olive Orchard host tastings?
CH: The Olive Orchard hosts tastings at least six to eight times per month. Tastings are held periodically at The North Market where we sometimes have a booth and on-site with our retail partners. During a tasting, we freely share samples of olive oils to demonstrate the remarkable spectrum of flavor.
MM: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams uses Olive Orchard olive oil in its Olive Oil with Sea Salted Pepitas flavor. How did that collaboration come about?
CH: In large part, like so many things, it was lucky timing. Having enjoyed our Orange Olive Oil over vanilla ice cream on several occasions, we knew there was potential. So we reached out to Jeni Britton Bauer for a tasting. As it would happen, Jeni had done an olive oil ice cream flavor in the past and was interested in reintroducing it. Our Sicilian EVOO−ranked best in the world by Flos Olei 2010− fit her desired flavor profile. Both companies are Columbus-based and have a passion for connecting with food producers− a great match. Since then, Jeni made a trip to Italy to tour the farm where the oil is produced. Now that’s orchard to table!
MM: Anything else you think I should know?
CH: Our South African extra virgin olive oil should be available any day now. It is a medium fruity olive oil with a distinct aroma and balanced flavor, a monocultivar olive oil crafted exclusively from the frantoio olive. We are thrilled to be able to debut this extra virgin olive oil to the United States.
To learn more about The Olive Orchard, visit TheOliveOrchard.com.