Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 17
 
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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TEAM WORK: “We emphasize friendly service in the tradition of Greek hospitality. It’s a real family atmosphere here. People feel very comfortable and often come in several times a day: for breakfast, lunch, and then dinner to take home.” Adam Angelakis (right) is owner and Caterina Liviakis is manager of Olives Gourmet Bakery & Deli.

Olives, Popular Gourmet Bakery and Deli,Celebrates 15th Anniversary in Princeton

Kali Oreksi — enjoy your meal! It’s what the Greeks say when they sit down to eat, and it’s the same sentiment Olives extends to every customer.

That spirit of warm hospitality infuses the Olives’ experience, and has been apparent from the first time the gourmet bakery and deli opened its doors at 22 Witherspoon Street in 1995.

Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, the popular eatery, which specializes in Greek and Mediterranean food, is a true Princeton success story. Its reputation in all areas of its operation just grows and grows.

“This is a family business, owned by the Angelakis and Verganelakis families,” explains Adam Angelakis, owner/operator of Olives.

The opening of Olives continued a family tradition, he adds. “Our family has another store. Colonial Farms in Washington Crossing, Pa., which is a gourmet market. My father and uncle started the business 20 years ago, and they originally came from Crete. My brother Nick is general manager of Colonial Farms.”

The name “Olives” reflects the Greek and Mediterranean influence on the deli’s cuisine, he notes. “We chose the name because olives and olive oil are such an important part of Greek and Mediterranean cooking. Most of our deli dishes include virgin olive oil. The best olive oil in the world is from Crete!”Mr. Angelakis, who attended Widener Hotel and Restaurant School, says that despite the hard work and long hours, he wouldn’t want to do anything else. “I grew up in the business with my father and uncle, working with them in the summer. I always wanted to do this. I love it, and I love satisfying the customers. Also, we have such a great team here. People always comment on how friendly the staff is.

“They love to come in and see the welcoming face of my uncle Tony Liviakis, the tall Greek guy with the moustache, who is the deli manager. And my cousin, Caterina Liviakis, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is the store manager. Our executive chef, Betti O’Connell, has been with us for 18 years, and we also have a lot of family recipes. The baklava, cookies, moussaka, and spanakopita were all my grandmother’s recipes.

“In addition, we always try to keep things interesting, and we want to whet the customer’s appetite with new tastes as well as our traditional favorites.”

The food at Olives is tasty and tempting, with its emphasis on quality and fresh ingredients — everything is made fresh daily. Living up to its name, it offers a wonderful assortment of olives, including Kalamata, and many others which vary from time to time.

Greek and Mediterranean favorite dishes include such specialties as moussaka (Greek eggplant casserole), chicken souvlaki, spanakopita (spinach pie), and gyros. There are popular vegetarian choices such as hummus, babaganoush, and falafel — all on pita — and Greek pasta salad with feta cheese, spinach, and olives.

After it added needed space in 2007, Olives was able to offer a full selection of prepared food and to expand the catering service. “With our expansion, we have even more great take-home dinners,” points out Mr. Angelakis. “People can stop by after work and pick up a full dinner, including main dish, side dish, bread, and dessert.”

Entree Specials

Recent entree specials include eggplant Florentine, Cajun chicken and pasta, Tex-Mex turkey burger with pico de gallo and pepper jack served with fries. “One of the most popular dishes is Buffalo chicken, with mac and cheese,” adds Mr. Angelakis. “Also, our Greek-style Tilapia is a favorite.

“In addition, we have six to seven hot lunch specials every day, and three hot soups every day. In spring and summer, we add cold soups, such as gazpacho, and the very popular chilled strawberry lime soup.”

Customers start coming in at 7 a.m., when the door opens, reports Caterina Liviakis. “They are all ages and all backgrounds, including University students and faculty, business people — a real mix. Some come in and enjoy coffee and a muffin, bagel, or croissant, while they read their newspaper. Others come in early after their morning run, and the Princeton lacrosse team comes in for breakfast after their practice.”

“We have a lot of breakfast specials, including egg white sandwiches,” adds Mr. Angelakis. “A special favorite is the Turbo six-egg white omelet, either with a nature burger or grilled chicken breast. It’s packed with protein, and people have it all through the day.”

Salads and cold and hot sandwiches are popular for lunch, and a new addition is the combo salad. Customers can order a sampling of three different salads, such as Mediterranean chick pea, Mexican layer, and Greek tomato and cucumber with feta, among many other choices, for $6.95.

Fresh Produce

Another popular lunch choice is Prosciutto de Parma on a ciabatta loaf with fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette.

“We have fresh produce delivered four to five times a week and seasonally from local farmers,” says Mr. Angelakis. “And we also have fresh bread deliveries every day from Hoboken.”

And then, there are the desserts, most made daily on the premises. For many, the mouthwatering display of bakery items will prove irresistible. The selection of plump muffins, creamy cakes, tempting tarts, oversized crisp cookies, and enticing eclairs, as well as baklava, lemon squares, and fruit Danishes, will test the staunchest resolve.

Birthday and wedding cakes are also an Olives specialty. “What is especially fun for me are the birthday cakes for kids,” says Ms. Liviakis. “We’ve done the cakes for kids since their first birthday, and we’ve seen them grow up. Looking at their faces when they see their birthday cake is wonderful. The gratitude and happiness they express is the highlight of my week!”

Complete Package

Olives’ catering service has grown into a big part of the business, and corporate and residential requests keep them very busy. As a full-service off-premises caterer, Olives can provide the complete package, including tent, silverware, and servers.

“We can accommodate a party from five to 500,” says Mr. Angelakis. “We have a full catering menu, and we do many corporate and residential special events, including indoor and outdoor settings. Right now, we have a lot of graduation parties coming up.”

He is proud that Olives has so many regular customers who come back again and again, and he and the entire Olives team make sure everyone is warmly welcomed. Many customers have become friends, and they look forward to time spent at Olives.

“Meeting our customers and spending time with them when they come in is a real pleasure for us,” reports Ms. Liviakis. “We enjoy the challenge of keeping our customers happy and offering them high quality fresh food and a real variety. We have great food, great service, and complete attention to sanitary conditions and safety at all times.

“I also love our location on Witherspoon Street,” she continues. “It has so much energy. And, one of my favorite images is the snow in winter and the gorgeous pear trees blossoming in spring.”

“Princeton is a wonderful town, and we are very happy to be here,” adds Mr. Angelakis. “It’s an honor to be in Princeton, and we are so grateful to our loyal customers who have supported us these 15 years. They can count on our being here for many more years to come.”

Prices at Olives include breakfast sandwiches from $2; $5.95 and up for lunch sandwiches, and $1.95 to $2.95 for desserts. Delivery is available in Princeton.

Hours are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8 to 8, Sunday 9 to 6. (609) 921-1569. Website: www.olivesprinceton.com.

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