Subway is no longer the only business in New Haven asking customers if they want oil and vinegar.
Opening today, Extra Virgin Oil is one of seven new businesses openings University Properties is celebrating this month. The store, located at 1020 Chapel St., is the second Extra Virgin Oil specialty shop to open in the state and seeks to bring organic and natural olive oils and vinegars to the New Haven community. Several students interviewed commented that while they did not know anything about the store, they thought it would bring a welcome variety to the shops located around Yale.
“[Extra Virgin Oil is] great actually because there are very few good olive oils around,” Adrian Martinez DRA ’15 said. “In my community at the Grad School, a lot of people cook and I think the success of the store will depend on how much cooking people do.”
Store owner and New Haven native Stephen Clemente said University Properties called him asking if he would want to open a second branch of his store in New Haven. Clemente said that the business was well received in Mystic, Connecticut — where the first branch opened — and he expects that the store will also fit into the fabric of the Yale community.
Paul Eisele, an employee at Raggs Fashion for Men, located next to Extra Virgin Oil, said that much aesthetic work, including creating raised wooden floor panels, had been done on the store before today’s opening. He added that many potential customers have already been looking through the windows, checking to see if the store is open.
“What makes our store unique, compared to every other olive oil stores out there, is that we are not a franchise,” Stephen Clemente, owner of the store, said. “The only place to get my products are in one of the two stores, either in Mystic or New Haven.”
In addition to the two olive oil stores, Clemente has opened two other businesses, specializing in pasta and wine, respectively.
Inspired by his grandmother’s recipes and culinary knowledge, Clemente opened the first location in 2011 to celebrate her 100th birthday. He said his grandmother’s philosophy was to consume an ounce of olive oil in the morning and an ounce of vinegar in the evening. He added that this would help protect the stomach throughout the course of the day while speeding up digestion and metabolism overnight.
“People ask me all the time, does it work? Well of course it works, she was a hundred years old,” Clemente said. “That was three years ago. She’s still alive today and still continues to drink her oil and vinegar.”
All of the store’s products are designed by Clemente and his staff. Not only are customers able to taste the oils and vinegars, they are also encouraged to choose their own blends, Clemente said. He added that customers are then able to taste the mixture as a vinaigrette or marinade.
Leah Loricco, an employee at Therapy Style on Chapel, said she thought the community will like the store because it is one of a kind. Director of University Properties Lauren Zucker echoed that sentiment, noting that UP always looks for a unique mix of tenants.
However, several undergraduate students and New Haven residents have also said that the store will not be of much use to them. Kim Carlson, a resident of New Haven, noted that the shop seemed “out of step” with the other stores on the street.
Bruce Wujcik, another local resident, said that the business occupies a unique niche and might not do well in the long run.
Before Extra Virgin Oil leased 1020 Chapel St., it was occupied by 1804 Fashion Footwear.