A Touch of the Mediterranean in the Heart of Carmel

The Olive Mill

Story and photos by Ann Craig-Cinnamon

If you adhere to a Mediterranean diet or simply love olive oil, your mecca sits in the Arts and Design District in Carmel.  The Olive Mill, now celebrating five years in its Carmel location, offers just about everything you could ask for in olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world. 

Olive oil is essential to a Mediterranean diet, which has long been heralded as one of the world’s healthiest diets.  People living around the Mediterranean have been cultivating olives for oil since about 6000 B.C.  In ancient times olive oil was also used as a source of medicine for its healing powers. 

Extra Virgin

Today, olive oil is recognized by scientists for its antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, iron, vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K and phenols which it is believed reduces bad cholesterol, protects against heart disease, prevents cancer and eases arthritis among many other things.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of nutrients sitting in the 1000 square foot shop at the corner of Range Line Road and Main Street.  Stephen Hannah, who has managed the Olive Mill in Carmel since it opened in 2013, says founders Debbie and Ed O’Connell opened their first shop more than 12 years ago in Geneva, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, bringing the concept of olive oil tasting to the Midwest.

 

He met them when they opened a shop in Saugatuck, Michigan. “I was managing an art gallery down the street, and was intrigued by the concept of a shop full of olive oils and vinegars”, he says. “I love to cook, and had never seen the variety of products offered by The Olive Mill.  I became a regular customer and within a few months, I was offered a job managing a new location that was being opened in Naperville, Illinois."

After three years in Naperville, the O’Connells starting looking at Carmel as a location for a new store. Having been born and raised in Indianapolis, Hannah was excited at the prospect of returning home.  “With the growth of Carmel and Hamilton County, it seemed the time was right for The Olive Mill.  As we looked for just the right location, we fell in love with the charm of the Arts and Design District.  When the property at the corner of Range Line and Main became available, we knew we had found our new home,” says Hannah.

The Olive Mill focuses on Extra Virgin Olive Oils, both single varietals, which is the pressing of one specific olive, and flavored and infused olive oil, along with Italian Balsamic Vinegars.  All are set up for sampling in the shop, every day during business hours.  “You always know exactly what you are taking home, its freshness and quality, because we bottle it after you have made your selection,” says Hannah. “We offer more than 50 varieties of oils and vinegars as well as spices, glazes, olives, olive salads, tapenades, and soaps and lotions – all celebrating the many uses of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.”  The Olive Mill also offers an assortment of imported and stuffed olives and other gourmet food products.

Small Batch and Artisan

Hannah says more and more “foodies” are discovering the benefits of cooking with olive oil. “Not only does it add rich flavor and moisture to your dishes, but the health benefits are numerous.  Use of Olive Oil is a big reason the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial for heart health, lowering blood pressure, fighting osteoporosis, aiding the symptoms of depression, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes,” he says.

The Olive Mill now has 5 locations in the Midwest and all are family owned.  Everyone is welcome to stop in and experience the European tradition of sampling a fresh selection of small batch and artisan Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars from all over the world. Many of the oils they carry are award winning.

After five years of managing the Olive Mill in Carmel, Hannah says he especially enjoys the interaction with customers.  “We have regulars from all over Indiana and the Midwest, and also welcome visitors to Carmel from across the USA and many foreign countries.  It is a pleasure to have the chance to represent Carmel and Hoosier hospitality to our visitors and to learn a little about them, their travels, their families and friends, and what brought them into our shop,” he says. “Many of our customers come to visit us every time they have visitors, and we are pleased to be on their list of places in Carmel they are proud to show off to their visiting family and friends.”