For Laura Hannu-Eckrote and husband, Roy Eckrote, getting into the olive oil and vinegar business was as accidental as it gets.
Visiting a store in Bar Harbor, Maine that offered high quality oils, the couple was inspired to start their own business.
“A lot of it had to do with the quality of the product,” Eckrote said. “We decided, ‘That would be a great business to get into.’”
Hannu-Eckrote opened Olive Orchard at First Street Station in Rehoboth Beach on April 3. The store carries 50 different flavors of extra virgin olive oils, infused olive oils and white and dark balsamic vinegars.
Hannu-Eckrote said her oils are fresh from the olive. “The other stuff tastes waxy, whereas this has a more robust flavor. I have robust and mild and medium flavors.”
The Olive Orchard is not only a store; it is a tasting room where customers can sample garlic infused olive oil – perfect for Italian bread – or strawberry-flavored dark balsamic for salad. Every flavor can be purchased in a bottle priced at $11, $17 and $21 depending on the size. Hannu-Eckrote said flavors could also be mixed if the customer so desires.
Olive Orchard also plans to carry honey, sea salts, lotions and personalized gift baskets.
This is the first business venture for the Eckrotes, who lived in Wilmington but are planning to move to Rehoboth permanently when Hannu-Eckrote retires from her job as a trauma nurse at University of Pennsylvania Hospital. An Air Force veteran, she served two tours in Iraq.
Eckrote said Rehoboth was a natural fit and thus far the local business community has been very supportive.
Olive Orchard’s first major event was Get Down in Town, the annual spring kickoff event April 3. Olive Orchard was paired with Grotto Pizza and used the chance to debut their products on Grotto’s chopped salad.
“We had a lot of people come in, come and sample our product. It was just a great experience,” Eckrote said.
The Olive Orchard, 70 Rehoboth Ave., is open on Friday-Monday in the spring. For more information, call 302-824-3012.