ADVERTISEMENT

Dan Gagliardo knows what you're thinking, driving by one of his D'Avolio shops.

"Most people who heard the concept or passed by the stores before we opened up said, 'These people are crazy,' " said Gagliardo. "Who's going to make it on olive oil and vinegar?"

But Gagliardo is not worried. The Lewiston businessman, who also owns Five West cable installers, Awnings Plus and Gagster's, a Niagara Falls restaurant, has opened three D'Avolio stores since June -- 830 Elmwood Ave., 5416 Main St. in Williamsville and 449 Center St. in Lewiston. They sell gourmet pasta, flavored salts and other cooks' delights in the stores, but it's mostly about the 23 varieties of extra virgin olive oil, and the same number of vinegars.

Customers can taste anything before they buy it, so people can see the products are worth it, he said. Everything except the white truffle oil is $15 for 375 milliliters. Bring back the bottle and they'll refill it for $13.50.

What made you think you could open a store selling just vinegar and olive oil?

"My daughters and I were visiting our home in Arizona. We were in Old Town Scottsdale and there was a little shop called Outrageous selling olive oils and vinegars. My oldest daughter said, 'Dad you have to come take a look at this.'

"We walked in and at first, you just don't understand. Why would you open up a store with olive oil and vinegar? That's exactly what I thought. So I walked in, I was intrigued, and I just fell in love with the concept."

You were so excited that two weeks later you met the distributor?

"There are about 120 of these stores across the country. What they do is get olive oil from every part of the world you could imagine. They buy the product from the individual farmers, and give us that product. The medicinal properties are much higher because there's no blending going on. Everything is first-pressed extra virgin. It's the best stuff you can buy out there."

Do you do mail order, too?

"I have a mail order business, but it's very small right now. The basic premise of this shop, the reason I've opened up so many of them, is convenience. I want people to be able to get it. I'm going to offer a delivery service when it gets a little colder.

"The idea is, you just want to be in these small communities. It draws the people there. All three locations that we're in, they're conscientious about what they eat. They care about it."

Delivery service? You must think people want your oil pretty bad.

"I do. I think that once people had it, you'll always want to cook with it."

e-mail: agalarneau@buffnews.com