With the variety of shops and restaurants downtown Flagstaff has to offer, there is bound to be something for everyone. A popular spot for local foodies is Olive the Best olive oil and balsamic vinegar store located on Birch Avenue and San Francisco Street.
Olive the Best is a locally owned and run business, started and maintained by owner Scotty McPeak and his father. The duo bought the shop two years ago and continue to do all the bottling, customer service and behind-the-scenes work themselves.
After being a tax accountant, McPeak said he decided to pursue a less stressful career. This decision became the driving force behind Olive the Best’s creation. He explained that in doing so, he reaps health benefits of both the olive oil as well as his ability to set his own schedule with the shop.
“It’s an easy and rewarding job and I enjoy the benefits of the products,” McPeak said.
With success from the start, McPeak said the small shop now attracts a variety of customers, locals and visitors alike, on a daily basis. He explained that most people who visit the store are interested in the health benefits of the olive oil, which is part of the reason Olive the Best has remained so popular.
The walls of the shop are lined with bottles of a variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Each type of oil or vinegar is accompanied by a note card detailing the product’s distinct qualities, as well as sample dispensers for curious passersby to have a taste. McPeak said he tries to create a very welcoming feel in the store by keeping the doors open and remaining prepared to strike up a conversation with a curious customer.
Local cooking fanatic and customer Kayla Yost said she purchased numerous products from Olive the Best for her culinary endeavors. She explained how the store’s wide selection of products host an even wider variety of uses.
“I really enjoy just the traditional olive oil because I can use it for anything and everything, but the flavor-infused ones are tasty, too,” Yost said.
She said that while Olive the Best’s olive oil is a go-to, she doesn’t use the oil in just her cooking. Yost said she also enjoys the store’s vast selection of balsamic vinegars.
“When I’m cooking more fancy foods, I love to set out the oregano white balsamic as part of the appetizer,” Yost said. “Then, I use either the raspberry balsamic or the espresso bean one in my dessert attempts.”
Before getting to a customer’s hands, the products at Olive the Best are bottled by McPeak in the back of the shop. He explained that while he spends a lot of time bottling, it is work he enjoys.
Furthermore, McPeak said he aims to expand the business further because he realized how rewarding his work at Olive the Best ultimately is.
“I plan on opening several shops throughout the state, but all the bottling of the products will be done at our Flagstaff store,” McPeak said.
McPeak said this expansion would allow Olive the Best to reap more success, while he and his father can continue the work they love.
Olive the Best has over 40 different kinds of olive oil and balsamic vinegar that are bottled and sold locally. While the shop already has an online store, McPeak explained that the business would likely also succeed with its expansion because of Olive the Best’s existing variety. He said that with more options to choose from, there will inevitably be something for everyone.
“The green chile-infused olive oil from the Barbary Coast of Africa has to be one of my favorites,” McPeak said. “I like the spice and I use it on eggs and roasted veggies.”
Yost agreed that the variety in Olive the Best’s inventory is what makes it unique and is what keeps her coming back for more.
“I really cannot pick a favorite,” Yost said. “There are so many options to choose from and I haven’t tried even a quarter of them.”
To name a few products one can find in Olive the Best, there are balsamic vinegars infused with pomegranate, fig, lavender, jalapeño and even black currant, as well as olive oils infused with dill, lime, blood orange, basil and more.
McPeak said he encourages anyone to check out Olive the Best and sample their products because there is something for everyone there. More information about the shop can be found on Olive the Best’s website.