Nick Sarantakos (also known as Nick Saras) recently spent three months in his native Greece at Paleopanagia, near Sparta, where his family owns around 200 acres with over 3,500 olive trees that produce olive oil. for his restaurant.
Banned from visiting his homeland for several years due to COVID, Saras was there from mid-November to mid-February, helping harvest the olives and then overseeing the start of production of this year’s oil.
Customers at Kephi Greek Kitchen on Richmond Road in Williamsburg were disappointed last fall when the last bottles of KeΦi extra virgin olive oil sold out. None were available until about two weeks ago when the new harvest products arrived.
KeΦi olive oil has been a star item at the restaurant since it opened in March 2018, but last fall “we sold out,” said Saras daughter-in-law Vailiki (Bess) Sarantakos. “We had never sold before, but suddenly everything was gone.”
The family has been producing olive oil for four generations. “We started selling oil in our church and then since 2018 here in the restaurant. Earlier we also sold it to [the former] Ukrop markets here in Williamsburg,” she said.
This year, the trees produced 105 tons of olives. “Normally seven of us can harvest this in 25-30 days, this year it took about three months,” Nick Saras said. Why?
“You can’t harvest in wet weather and we had two wet days then one dry day the whole time,” he explained. “You can’t harvest in hot weather either. So we needed dry and cool days.
Saras, 80, worked every day harvesting from around 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. “Then I would come back at 4:30 p.m. to pick people up and we would start again the next day,” he says.
To begin the harvest, the ground around the trees is covered with a tarp to catch the olives which are shaken from the trees by a long-handled device.
Typically, the olives picked that day go straight to the factory, where they are washed, stripped of the leaves and then pressed. At the end of the day, the oil is transported to another factory where it has been filtered and bottled.
The factories also located in Paleopanagia are a community operation for around 400 families who also harvest olives.
Restaurant patrons interested in seeing the olive harvest can see a giant screen behind the dessert counter at Kephi Greek Kitchen. It plays images of Saras’ Greek farm and him harvesting the trees, many of which are hundreds of years old.
Part of the newly filled bottles remained in the family in Greece; everything else was packed into a container and shipped across the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic and finally to the restaurant in Williamsburg and Saras.
“Last year, my cost, including transportation, was around $32,000. This year the cost was $60,000, almost double. But that’s what happens, isn’t it? he lamented.
Four different sizes of KeΦi Extra Virgin Olive Oil are available for purchase now at the restaurant. A three-liter can sells for $45. There are three bottle sizes, 250ml for $4.90, 500ml for $7, and 750ml for $12.90.
“We use all of our own oil in the kitchen,” Saras said. “We cook with it all the time. It’s good oil, very good oil.
He has been in the restaurant business for 60 years, much of it in the Williamsburg area. The family also owns the Seafare steakhouse and seafood restaurant across Richmond Road and next door, the Route 60 Barbeque Market, which opened amid the pandemic.
Strangeways Brewing Co. plans to open a new micro-brewery in the High Street neighborhood if Williamsburg City Council gives its approval at its May meeting.
The city’s planning commission gave the green light on April 20 to two items on the agenda. Planning staff members have recommended approval of a zoning ordinance amendment in the High Street area (Economic Development District ED-2) allowing for “micro-brewery, micro-distillery, micro-winery and/or micro cider house, with a capacity of not more than 15,000 barrels per year” with a special use permit.
Secondly, another resolution grants a special use permit to allow Strangeways to open a restaurant and micro-brewery in the area previously occupied by the Pendleton clothing store on the corner of High Street and Richmond Road.
The Richmond-based brewery also has a location in Fredericksburg. This operation will be smaller than the company’s two current operations, owner Neil Burton told the planning commission. In addition to the brewery, there will be a tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating.
Before reaching the planning commission, the project was reviewed by the city’s architectural review board, which reviewed the patio space lighting and proposed patio furniture. He recommended patio umbrellas be tanned.
Two new stores have opened at Williamsburg Premium Outlets on Richmond Road in James City County.
Simply Williamsburg, a clothing and gift store part of the Simply Southern brand of retail clothing stores, opened near Carter’s and Crocs outlets. The Greensboro, North Carolina-based retailer currently has 27 stores in 12 states, many of which are in malls.
Another specialty outlet is Thread Impressions, which offers custom embroidered items like shirts and hats.
Both stores are open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. amto 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 12 p.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.
Another new store – Tiny Textures – has opened in Midtown Row on Monticello Avenue. This is a children’s hair salon, now taking appointments and offering services for children of all hair types. The owner is Regina Holden.
• Index AR Solutions has expanded its operations with a lease of 14,717 square feet of office space at the Williamsburg Commerce Center, 460 McLaws Circle. Cushman & Wakefield’s Josh Fulton | Thalhimer handled the lease negotiations on behalf of the landlord.
• Cale Management, Inc. has leased 1,224 square feet of office space at the Busch Corporate Center, 295 McLaws Circle. Cushman & Wakefield’s Andy Dallas | Thalhimer handled the lease negotiations on behalf of the landlord.