Known regionally for his appliance business, Manny’s owner ventures into olive oil

  • Olives stuffed with pimientos, left, sold by Manny’s Olive Oil, at Table and Vine. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Manny Rovithis of Manny's Olive Oil, right, converses with customer Gary Connon of Holyoke March 16, 2018 at Table and Vine in West Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Customer Gary Connon of Holyoke tastes a stuffed olive sold by Manny's Olive Oil March 16, 2018 at Table and Vine in West Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • At left, an assortment of Manny’s Olive Oil products, including olive oil, front left, balsamic vinegar, garlic olive oil, red pepper olive oil, salad dressing, basil olive oil, back left, oregano olive oil and rosemary olive oil, is displayed at Table and Vine.

  • An assortment of Manny's Olive Oil is displayed March 16, 2018 at Table and Vine in West Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Customer Carolyn Daniels of Springfield tastes black olive tapenade by Manny Rovithis of Manny's Olive Oil March 16, 2018 at Table and Vine in West Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Manny Rovithis of Manny’s Olive Oil, center, talks to customer Joe Casey of West Springfield at Table and Vine in West Springfield. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY PHOTOS

  • An assortment of Manny’s Olive Oil is displayed at Table and Vine in West Springfield. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

@BeraDunau
Published: 3/18/2018 6:34:49 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Around here, people know him as Manny.

The founder and owner of Manny’s TV & Appliances, he has been part of the fabric of western Massachusetts for decades. Yet long before he started his business 42 years ago, Manny was born Emanuel “Manny” Rovithis on the Greek island of Crete. And four years ago, Rovithis decided to share another product of Crete with the people of New England: olive oil.

“Until they try good oil, they really don’t know what it tastes like,” he said.

Rovithis said that his olive oil requires no seasoning, and that one can enjoy bread just with it.

“You’ll be golden,” he said.

Although the olive oil is not certified organic, Rovithis said that there is no spraying in the village in Crete where the olive trees are located. He also said that the olive oil is certified kosher and has won two silver awards from the New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Rovithis’ family has lived in Crete for generations.

“As far as I know, forever,’ Rovithis said.

They also own between 1,800 and 2,000 olive trees, and have made a living off of them long before he entered the olive oil business. The olives they press for oil are Koronicki olives.

“The oil, it’s our trees,” said Rovithis.

The olives are harvested in November and December from both the family’s trees and the trees of other villagers. It is then pressed in a single cold press in Greece, where it is also bottled. It is shipped to the United States in containers, and a container contains between 14,000 and 17,000 bottles. Four containers were shipped last year.

Rovithis is currently selling olive oil from the 2016 harvest, and the oil from the 2017 harvest is being shipped over soon.

Rovithis said that his family has always brought their Greek olive oil to the United States for personal use. Yet it was only recently that they’ve shared it with the paying public. Four years ago, he brought three bottles of olive oil to Big Y.

“They gave me an order for half a container,” said Rovithis. “The rest is history.”

Rovithis said that his appliance business allowed him to go into this new venture, and that he started it for enjoyment.

“I don’t have to depend on it,” he said.

He also said that the groundwork for success was already in place.

“Everything was there,” he said.

Still, the enterprise has grown into something more than just a profitable venture. Currently the business has two full-time employees and the oil is sold in about 130 stores, including Big Y, Atkins Farm Country Market, Maple Farm Foods and River Valley Market.

Rovithis does tastings of his olive oil at locations like Table and Vine and River Valley Market.

“People love it,” he said.

Rovithis said what he likes about doing the tastings is talking to people.

Olive oil isn’t the only thing Rovithis sells emblazoned with a painting of his smiling face either. He sells infused oils, olives, infused olives, balsamic vinegar and olive tapenades. On top of all this, Rovithis also imports clay pottery from Crete for sale, although he may be moving away from that.

The balsamic vinegar is provided by a family friend, and the two are exploring selling Cretan wine. The wine will be sold under the “Three Faces” label, in honor of imagery from his wife’s hometown of Horseheads, New York. As one might expect, the labels will features three pictures of Rovithis on them.

Rovithis will also be hiring a part-time person to do wine and olive oil tastings.

“People are not just going to buy it because my face is on it,” he said.

Rovithis now visits Greece multiple times a year, and he has a house in the village of Sissi. That’s located near Malia, where he was born, and Vrahase, where he spent much of his childhood.

“It’s like being here,” he said, of what it’s like when he’s back in Greece, noting that it is an area of small villages. “Everyone knows who I am.”

Asked for some of the best uses he’s found for olive oil, Rovithis listed putting it on salads and boiled greens. However, he said that he also cooks with it, although he will not deep fry with it.

“Even though my mom does,” said Rovithis.

Rovithis’ mother is in her 90s.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com




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