New owners and a new name for Gainesville olive oil and vinegar tasting room
Stainless steel containers that hold different types of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, seasonings, jars of olives, and cooking utensils that read “I can’t olive without you” and “Olive I ever wanted,” is what you will find at The Treasured Olive.
The Treasured Olive opened its doors at 4401 NW 25 th Place, Unit D, in Gainesville on March 22.
Nathaniel, 33, and Cassie Briggs, 29, expanded their business from their original store located in Winter Haven. The couple, who are originally from Kansas, has 11 years of experience in the niche olive oil business.
“Everybody loves food. And when you don't get quality olive oil and balsamic from the grocery store in the United States, there's nowhere else to go other than a store like this,” said Nathaniel Briggs.
A sign at the entrance to the store reads “don’t be fooled by grocery store ‘olive oil,’ come in and taste the difference.” Nathaniel Briggs said most olive oils bought in grocery stores in the United States are made with other varieties of oil such as canola, sunflower and vegetable oils.
“They add chemicals to make it taste like olive oil; they add chlorophyll to make the color change. So, it just isn’t olive oil,” he said. “We recommend our customers to taste what they have at home, then taste what they bought here. They definitely will taste the difference.”
Olive oils at The Treasured Olive are infused with lime, cilantro, roasted garlic and rosemary and are imported from all over the world. The flavors of the balsamic vinegars include key lime, peach, pineapple, strawberry and coconut.
The store currently carries 40 types of olive oils and balsamic vinegar, and the couple is looking to offer closer to 60 types in the next few weeks. At their Winter Haven location, they offer 75 different types of olive oils and balsamic vinegar.
“Every three to six months, we switch from the northern to southern hemispheres, so we always have the freshest olive oils in the market. Then, our balsamic vinegars are imported from Modena, Italy. They've been slowly aged for 12 to 25 years with no added sugar or preservatives. All the flavored oils are naturally flavored. Like the rosemary here,” Nathaniel Briggs said pointing. “They actually press the rosemary with the olives so that the flavors fuse together.”
Customers can taste samples before deciding which olive oil to purchase. Once they have made their selection, the Briggs fill a glass bottle with their choice of olive oil and seal it appropriately.
“We like it here because there's unique flavors and different infusions in their products,” said 19-year-old customer Lindsay Taylor. "And we liked the locally owned atmosphere."
The Treasured Olive was previously Saporito OVS (Olive oil, Vinegar and Spices) and was owned by Keith and Katrine Dunn, according to the business’ public records. Nathaniel Briggs had called Keith Dunn inquiring about a specific type of olive oil, since they both had the same supplier (Veronica Food Signature Collection) when the conversation suddenly took a turn. Keith Dunn asked Nathaniel Briggs if he was interested in opening a second store.
“I told him ‘You never know. I'm kind of crazy, who knows what we'll do?’ And then about a month ago, they called us up and they accepted our offer,” Nathaniel Briggs said.
The Dunns had been running Saporito OVS for eight years before selling their establishment to the Briggs. On March 21, Katrine Dunn posted a video on social media passing the “mom-n-pop shop baton” to the couple.
Kathleen McCauley, 68, said she had been a regular customer of Saporito for years. She would go to the establishment a couple of times a month to get her supply of garlic-stuffed olives imported from Spain.
“I was very, very concerned when I came in and the new owners weren’t here yet. It was empty. But the guys from next door told me that they bought it, and they were going to reopen it. So, I didn't go have a nervous breakdown. I just had to be patient,” McCauley said. “I just happened to ride by today to see if it was open and if my olives were going to be available in the future. Now and in the future. And they are.”
Steve and Stacey Roderick would drive one hour from Williston every six months just to purchase bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
“If you're cooking and trying to make good food, then having that extra variety, instead of just plain olive oil, adds dimension to the food. It makes it better. So, it's good to have it,” Steve Roderick said. “We've been doing this for many, many years.”
A sample glass bottle for the olive oils and balsamic vinegars costs $8, the 200 ml bottle is $14.95, the 375 ml bottle is $19.95, the 750 ml bottle is $38.95 and the half-gallon bottle goes for $96.95. The store also partners with other local businesses, including Back Porch Pottery, to sell their products at area stores.
The Briggs said The Treasured Olive will eventually sell other gourmet products, including local honey, cheeses and fine wine.
Nathaniel and Cassie Briggs said they will continue to live in Winter Haven but will be driving back and forth to run their business. The couple is expecting a baby in May.
“It’s a lot. We just bought an olive oil store and have a baby coming. It will be fun, though,” Nathaniel Briggs said. “It will keep us young.”