Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Olive, an urban dive

An equally appropriate name might be: Olive, an urban dream.

Kim Collett, owner of Olive, an urban dive is quite a gal. After following the evolution of Olive on its face book site and enjoying several delicious lunches in the newly restored Wympee, I was anxious to meet her.

When my friend Lori treated me to a birthday lunch at Olive I had a chance to chat with Kim and walked away wowed. She took on the birth of Olive with spirit and grit. It was a hands on rehab of a very grungy Wympee. Kim, in one of her many prior career turns, had rehabbed for Habitat for Humanity on New York’s Lower East Side. She used every bit of the experience garnered there to gut the building and create a charming restaurant with an urban groove. Her mantra is:  “Use everything!” Her business model: “I’m Scottish!” Her work ethic: “I’ve never taken a job that I didn’t do like I owned the place.”

White Chimney Belgian Beer Bottles Repurposed as Lights

I believe there are many ways to get an education and that a college degree is not the only path to success and fulfillment. There is currently a lack of respect for the apprenticeship model, a lack of respect for craftsmen and artists. We are telling kids that the only way to be somebody is to have a college degree. It is refreshing to meet Kim whose life long willingness to try new things and create new and better ways to do something has led her to this point, restaurant owner and entrepreneur.  To stretch two months of travel money into a two and one half year stay in Europe, she established a nanny service while in England, bartended in Greece, and offered three day tours of Paris to fellow hostel dwellers. She's a creative problem solver and likes to find a niche and fill it!

The food at Olive is mostly local. On this day, the wait staff was wearing shirts sporting the list of local resources. She has a mutually profitable relationship with the vendors from Second Street Market and sends her compost over to The Garden Station.

The daily soup pays homage to the "use everything" mantra as it is created from unsold food from the prior day. The soup that accompanied my Ahi Tuna Tacos was Pork Barbecue and Sweet Potato. That sounded strange to me but was.... delicious! The slivers of basil added just the right touch. The Ahi mix for the build-it-yourself taco had cannellini beans and garbanzos! 

Kim's current dream for Olive is to watch it grow. I will not be surprised to see her at some point turn it over to someone else. She likes new challenges. In this tough economy she used her "I'm Scottish." business model to garner the $52,000 in promissory notes she needed, in combination with many woman hours, for start up costs. She's well on her way to paying those notes back. I think she's achieved a dream, starting a successful restaurant, that many aspire to but few actualize. 

So head downtown, to the corner of Third and Wayne, for delicious food and friendly service. Have a chat with Kim if you can rope her down for a moment. This time, she's working like she owns the place because she does! The Virginia Wolfe quote, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." is just right for this warm and welcoming place.

A rare moment, Kim sitting!

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