Angelo Incorvaia spent his career in corporate America, but he and his wife, Patricia, had long nursed a love affair with California’s culture, from its Napa Valley wineries to its cuisine. And so a year and a half ago, when the couple were casting around for something new to do, they decided to bring California olive oil to Brooklyn, opening the city’s first outpost of a small chain called We Olive (116 Smith Street, Brooklyn).
The couple had been looking at a number of different franchises when they stumbled upon We Olive in San Diego. “We really fell in love,” says Angelo. “It has a rustic feel, and it highlights everything we love about California,” including the different wine regions and, of course, the olive oil, which forms the basis for the store.
“We Olive is a franchise built around the concept of promoting and selling domestic olive oils — predominantly California olive oils — with an eye toward educating customers,” Angelo explains. That means outlets are not only olive oil shops; they’re built around the olive oil tasting experience, and they also sell gourmet food, spreads, condiments, and kitchen supplies, like cutting boards, cookbooks, and aprons.
Some of the shops also have wine bars, and you can expect one to open alongside the retail space on Smith Street. “The wine bar will be offering California wines along with beers and small plates,” says Angelo, citing dishes like panini, cheese platters, and hummus plates, all of which are made from products in the store. Because New York State has a burgeoning wine and beer scene, this particular outlet will also sell selections from local wineries and breweries.
And the space is set up so that We Olive can host events, including tastings with boutique wineries and olive oil producers. The owners will offer that space up for private events, too, and they’ll be able to create custom gift baskets and custom labeling on olive oil bottles for party favors. The shop also features a little sidewalk café.
The Incorvaias opted to open their first outlet on Smith because they have roots in the area. “We grew up in the neighborhood,” says Angelo. “We’ve always loved the area. My wife’s mother lives there. We were looking in all the areas of Brooklyn, but we found this really great space.”
But if things go well, this won’t be We Olive’s only New York location. “We’re already talking about opening the second store,” says Angelo, adding that they’re exploring real estate in DUMBO.
Look for We Olive to open in the next couple of weeks.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 3, 2014