A Minnesota couple with Coast ties is opening a gourmet olive oil and vinegar shop in Pass Christian just like the successful one they opened a year ago in Northfield, Minn.
After Sherry and Joe Morgan opened Northfield Olive Oils and Vinegars in Sherry’s home state, both have left their careers — she in banking, he in engineering — to devote themselves full time to the store.
Morgan was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base and the family lived in Pass Christian prior to Hurricane Katrina. They moved to Minnesota just before the 2005 storm, which destroyed their house.
Their daughter Kyla moved back to attend the University of Southern Mississippi on the Coast and is a recent graduate. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do something down South,” Joe Morgan recalled.
Pass Christian Olive Oils and Vinegars is located at 141 Davis Avenue. The plan is to have a soft opening a few days before and during the Dec. 6-7 Christmas in the Pass holiday event and then open permanently on Dec. 18.
‘’We were looking for a location anywhere along the Coast,” Morgan said. They looked in Ocean Springs, Biloxi and finally in the Pass. The spot they chose on Davis Avenue had previously housed a bar so there wasn’t much build out to do. Plus, Pass Christian “felt very much like I was at home,” Morgan said. “It was a chance to come back after we had lost so much.”
The other locations may have more foot traffic or are better known for shopping, Morgan said, “But for us it all came together. We had found the perfect place in the place we love.”
With a year under their belt operating the Northfield store, Morgan said he’s learned that people love balsamic vinegar. “It’s been a fantastic experience, we’ve had nothing but success here. The thought is to carry that momentum down South.”
The store will have the same setup as the Northfield flagship. There will be 42 varieties each of vinegars and olive oils, with the emphasis on extra virgin olive oils. The shop carries the Ultra Premium category of olive oil that claims to be “the highest quality olive oil in the world.”
Morgan said the extra virgin olive oils will come from both hemispheres, depending on the harvest time to ensure having “the freshest oils at all times.” For Christmas in the Pass, there will be three varieties from California, among others.
Prices start at $6 a bottle up to $30, higher for gourmet oils. “We keep prices low so the products flow through the store very quickly. We don’t want old oil, it’s not like wine that gets better with age. The key to oil is freshness,” he said.
Balsamic vinegars include black cherry, mission fig and chocolate flavors. Infused extra virgin olive oils come in basil, lemon, garlic, butter and Tuscan herb flavors, among others. Gourmet oils include black and white truffle flavors.
The shop will have a full tasting room so customers can sample the extra virgin olive oils. “We will store all the products in 15-liter stainless steel tanks and next to each one will be a little green sample bottle. Customers can pour a sample into a cup and ‘tip and sip’,” said Morgan.
Morgan said the shop also will sell several types of salts, pastas, pesto, jams and chocolates made with oils instead of milk.