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MEEKER I “It changes the way people cook, and it changes the way people view food,” says one of Meeker’s newest store owners, Julianne Belland. It has been a little over a month that Off The Olive Branch has been in business, with a solid start to top it off.
Belland’s main selling point to her store is her variety of fresh-filled oils and vinegar. She has always cooked at home while homeschooling her children and always used oils and vinegar, but it wasn’t until she came across a Greeley store that she discovered a new side of the olive branch.
“It was a completely different experience in terms of the freshness and quality of the oils,” Belland said. Visiting this store started her thinking about running a store with the same oils here in Meeker. Space was not an issue as she and her husband already owned the space where her shop is now, but finding out if the store would be a good fit in the community was the next point to brainstorm. After asking around town, people were very positive with their feedback. Noting that they would no longer have to go out of town to get their specialty oils or vinegar anymore, adding yet another opportunity to shop local in this community.
Belland’s store offers 24 different flavors of oils and vinegar. With a variety of different sizes of reusable jars to fill and refill. Customers can start small and eventually work their way up depending on how fast they use their products — also offering the opportunity to try out many different flavors depending on what they are cooking. If some don’t know where to start, Julianne offers different recipe cards to go with each of the 24 oils and vinegar.
Every quarter, a different oil and vinegar tap is sold with a few salt seasonings paired with them. This quarter a maplewood smoked bacon infused olive oil and bourbon barrel-aged balsamic vinegar are offered, along with smoked bacon and applewood barbecue salt seasonings.
While the oil and vinegar are sitting in the taps, they have a decently long shelf life. Only once they are exposed to oxygen, such as when decanted into the jars, does their shelf life begin. They can last up to a year after leaving the taps as long as they are kept out of direct sunlight.
In addition to the oils and vinegar, Belland features a wide variety of unique gifts for weddings and birthdays.
“Trying to find out what else to sell here was kind of me shooting from the hip. I thought of what I would look for if I was looking for a gift and went from there,” said Julianne. The store holds many wooden and ceramic housewarming gifts and other minor food items, including pasta and tomato sauce imported from Italy with gluten-free and vegan options.
The store also includes the Highland Beef Shop, which is the Bellands’ grass-fed, locally finished beef with many different cuts available.
Even though she has just started, Julianne is already looking into the future. Since there is not much room to expand, she came up with the idea for cooking classes during the winter months. It’s still a rough idea but could be something for the town to look forward to in the future.
Off the Olive Branch is open Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and located at 317 East Market St. Suite #4.
By Sophia Goedert – Special to the Herald Times