Visit downtown Delaware for big-city shops
By Brandon Klein
The city of Delaware’s downtown has the meats, cheeses and olive oils.
Their varieties can be found at the historic area’s specialty food shops that opened last year. The Greater Gouda and Olivina Taproom offer higher-end foods for downtown’s visitors, residents and employees.
An eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, retail and service-oriented businesses makes up 96 percent of the area’s first-floor spaces, located loosely along Sandusky Street from Spring Street to Central Avenue.
Top that with First Friday events, organized by nonprofit Main Street Delaware, the downtown becomes an echo of a similar district about 30 miles south in Columbus.
“They’re calling (downtown Delaware) the North Short North,” said Mark Smiles, a co-owner of The Greater Gouda.
He and his wife, Terri-Lynne Smiles, decided to open a meat and cheese shop to fill the void left by a non-downtown grocery store. The two were not interested in driving farther out of the city for quality ingredients in Columbus or the state’s Amish country.
They opened their 2,600-square-foot shop in June 2016 and since then “it has exceeded our expectations,” Terri-Lynne said.
“Delaware has a huge appetite for specialty foods,” she said.
The shop offers three tiers of cheeses with basic ones from Amish country, artisan cheeses from across the nation and imported ones over the border. Traditional deli meats come from Walnut Creek, Ohio, plus imported meats such as Prosciutto di Parma from Italy.
The Smileses offer the opportunity to mix and match their products with party trays and gift baskets. They also sell local products, made-to-order sandwiches and chocolates, one of their most popular items.
“We have the feel of a country store while having a gourmet touch,” Mark said.
Another thing shoppers can find at their store are promotional cards for Olivina Taproom.
“That’s one of the great things about downtown Delaware is that we support each other,” Terri-Lynne said.
Chris Schobert agreed.
The owner of the Olivina Taproom said he has customers who want to pair their meats and cheeses from The Greater Gouda with his products of flavor-infused olive oils, vinaigrettes and accessories.
“What we want people to do is … kind of walk out with a meal if they need to, feed their families and enjoy, beyond our store, the experience of our products at home,” he said.
Schobert gets really excited when he sees people post photos on social media of meals they made using his products.
“That’s pretty satisfying. We made a difference,” he said.
The 1,700-square-foot Olivina Taproom has done well since it opened in late November, according to Schobert. Delaware and surrounding communities have been supportive of the shop because there’s a sustainable market for local businesses and unique products.
More than half of Schobert’s oil products are developed with olives from a 3,000-acre reserve at his cousin’s estate in Spain. There’s also a craft element, as he offers olive oils fused with flavors such as blood orange, cayenne and chipotle.
“It’s not bulk produce products,” he said.
Shopping at Olivina Taproom is an educational experience, Schobert added. It features another activity different from bars and restaurants with its after-hours tasting events featuring chefs. Such events have featured topics like how to cook vegetarian and holiday-themed recipes.
“We want to create a community that loves coming to downtown Delaware,” he said.
The Greater Gouda
12 N. Sandusky St., Delaware
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays
44 S. Sandusky St., Delaware
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays