Vol. LXI, No. 23
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
TEMPTING THE TASTEBUDS: "In today's world, everyone is so rushed. Olives offers quality restaurant food to take home and enjoy at leisure. We have international cuisine, with the focus on Mediterranean." Adam Angelakis, owner of Olives Gourmet Bakery & Delicatessen, is shown in the popular eatery's newly expanded quarters.
Olives is a true Princeton success story. Opened 12 years ago, offering Greek and Mediterranean food, this gourmet bakery and delicatessen's popularity just grows and grows.
The newly expanded space enables Olives to offer more delicious dishes, including top-quality prepared food to go. Now, even more hungry customers line up waiting to pick up their favorite dish.
"We always wanted to expand, and then the space became available," says owner Adam Angelakis, who is the second generation of his family to be involved in the food business. "Our family has another store, Colonial Farms in Washington Crossing, Pa., which is a gourmet market. We are a family business the Angelakis and Verganelakis family. My father, George Angelakis and my uncle, George Verganelakis, started Colonial Farms, 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, adds Mr. Angelakis. "We chose the name because olives and olive oil are such an important part of Greek and Mediterranean cooking. 80 to 90 percent of our deli dishes include olive oil.
"With our new space, we'll have a Mediterranean bar, with olives mostly from Greece. It will be a great assortment, including Jalapena, Kalamata, split green, and tiny Nicoise, among others."
Mr. Angelakis, who attended Widener Hotel and Restaurant School, says that despite the hard work and long hours (he comes in at 6 a.m.), 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. Now, seeing the customers enjoying the food is a thrill. I enjoy watching their faces when they buy the lunch and dinner specials, and say how much they liked it when they had it before. And with the off-premises catering, when people call back and say how they loved it that makes it all wonderful.
"Also," he continues, "people love the expansion. They are so happy we're offering more, including gourmet items, such as olive oil, honey (from Crete), jams, jellies, and a variety of chips and snacks. In addition, we are now carrying chocolates from Jacques Torres, a famous New York chef. They are exclusive to us in Princeton."
Customers also like the decor the green and burgundy color motif, the tiled floor and walls, and the new spacious configuration. "Our architect, Richardson Smith Architects, did a fabulous job," says Mr. Angelakis.
It gets busy early at Olives. Customers begin to come in at 7 for coffee, croissants, danish, and the famous over-sized plump muffins. "We have a lot of breakfast specials and the best egg sandwiches in town," points out Mr. Angelakis. "Egg white sandwiches are very tasty and popular on whole wheat pita, and a special favorite is the Turbo six-egg white omelet, either with nature burger or grilled chicken breast. It's packed with protein. People have it all through the day."
Lunch time brings in even more customers who choose from the six or seven daily lunch specials and three to four different soups. Sandwiches, salads, and soups (including the delicious fresh-chilled strawberry lime) are all favorites. Cold and hot sandwiches, and vegetarian specials are available, as is a selection of traditional Greek choices. Gyros, chicken souvlaki sandwiches, spanakopita (spinach pie), moussaka (Greek eggplant casserole), and hummus, babaganoush, falafel all on pita grape leaves stuffed with rice, and Greek pasta salad (feta cheese, spinach and olives).
"With our expansion, we now have even more great take-home dinners" says Mr. Angelakis. "Grilled London broil with horseradish on the side, twice-baked potatoes, grilled salmon with bruschetta topping, for example. We have a lot of main entrees, including grilled chicken, grilled fish, and grilled meat. We also have a daily fish dish. Other specials include pork stuffed with apricots and prunes, with cider cream sauce, side dishes, such as sauteed snowpeas with cherry tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, and herb-roasted potatoes. Every dinner special has an entree and choice of rice, potato, or vegetable."
Lunch and dinner salads, including spring mix and spinach, are available every day.
Mr. Angelakis also notes that customers are more aware of the need for a healthy diet today. "Whole wheat bread, whole wheat pita, whole wheat wrap, and 7-grain bread are very popular," he reports. "People are very aware of healthy choices, and this is a big change."
That doesn't mean they don't enjoy the desserts, however. A display case offers a mouth-watering selection of cakes, tarts, over-sized cookies (Olives' chocolate chip cookies were voted Number One by Princeton High School students, says Mr. Angelakis), Danish, lemon squares, etc., etc.
Olives also has an active catering business, both corporate and residential, he adds. "It began to take off in 2000, and it's now 25 percent of the business. We are very busy with deliveries to all the offices in town and corporations on Route One. We have a lot of Monday-Friday lunch meetings and residential catering on weekends. Also, many special events, such as graduations, First Communions, anniversaries, etc.
"And there are so many regular customers," he adds. "People who both live or work here. We love this town. The locals, the University students and faculty are all customers. One of the things I know is that they love to come in and see friendly faces. Especially the welcoming face of my Uncle Tony Liviakis, the tall Greek guy with the moustache!
"Many of our employees have been here six to eight years. We have seen kids grow up in the past 12 years. We see the University students for four years, and then after they graduate, when they come back for reunions, they come in and see us."
Olives' soups, salads, sandwiches, cookies, and muffins can also be found at Princeton's U-Store, in the U-2 deli, and the chocolate chip cookies are often shipped to New York among other places.
Prices at Olives range from $5.95 to $8.95 for lunch specials; $6.95 to $12.95 for dinner specials, and $2.50 to $5.95 for egg white sandwiches.
"We offer fresh ingredients and great quality," says Mr. Angelakis. "We have a lot of family recipes. The baklava, cookies, moussaka, and spanakopita were all my grandmother's recipes. It's always a challenge to keep things interesting, and we try to whet the customer's appetite with new tastes, as well as our traditional favorites. I am so happy that our customers like the expansion. And there's more to come. New surprises are on the way!"
Olives is open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 8:30 to 6. (609) 921-1569; fax: (609) 683-8375 (orders can be faxed). Web: www.olivesprinceton.com.
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