published Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Oil, vinegar tasting offers unique varieties

Randall Stappenbeck restocks some bottles of olive oil. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil tasting room and retailer Olive Chattanooga recently held their grand opening in their space above Bone Appetite.
Randall Stappenbeck restocks some bottles of olive oil. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil tasting room and retailer Olive Chattanooga recently held their grand opening in their space above Bone Appetite.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
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• Name: Olive Chattanooga

• Location: 110 Woodland Ave., off Frazier Avenue on Chattanooga's NorthShore

• Contact information: 423-266-4044, OliveChattanooga.com

• Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Products/services: Free extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting of the business's 42 flavors, including chocolate balsamic and blood orange olive oil. Customers may buy balsamics for between $7 to $17 and oils from $9 to $19 depending on the size of bottle purchased.

• Age: About one month

• Getting started: Owner Randall Stappenbeck visited oil and vinegar tasting rooms in other cities and thought such a business would fit in well on Chattanooga's north shore. "We wanted to provide the experience," he said. "We're a tasting room first and if you like what we have, we sell the product second."

• Target market: Tourists, local foodies and anyone looking for a unique food shopping experience. Stappenbeck said even those at first averse to oil and vinegar might be surprised by what the store has to offer. "My son is 8 years old and he couldn't stand vinegar," he said. "It took me 30 minutes to get him to try the strawberry, but when he did it was all over."

• Biggest hurdle: Familiarizing people with the concept of the business and uses for its products.

• Biggest reward: Talking with customers who grow to enjoy Olive Chattanooga's services. One customer recently brought in chocolate brownies she had made with blood orange oil, giving them a unique flavor.

• Lesson learned: When starting a business, make a plan and stick to it. "I'm doing everything myself, from the logo design to the sourcing. The only thing I did not do is paint the walls in this place," Stappenbeck said. "When you're doing it yourself, don't get overwhelmed."

• Five-year goal: Expand the business, possibly opening new locations across the region.

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