San Francisco Landmark Features vomFASS Store

On a recent visit to Northern California, we stopped by to see Mike and Adelaide Pollastro. Their new vomFASS Oils, Vinegars and Spices store is located in Ghirardelli Square, one of San Francisco’s most historic and oft-visited attractions. Though bustling with customers, Mike took a few minutes to chat with us, while Adelaide managed the store.

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Toni Jakovec: Hi Mike, nice to see you again. So tell me, what was the most compelling reason to open a vomFASS store? Do you like to cook? Do you like the product line?

Mike Pollastro: My wife was very eager to open a business, and we liked the product line very much.

TJ: Why did you choose San Francisco’s famous Ghirardelli Square for your location?

MP: I did a study and came down here (to Ghirardelli) several times. It is the classiest place on the San Francisco Wharf. We saw that Kim Weisshad a good operation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and decided that a location with that kind of “foot traffic” would translate into immediate success, rather than building a customer base over several months to off-set our opening expenses. We wanted to have something “out of the box” and close to neighborhoods. We are surrounded by three affluent neighborhoods and, after all, who wouldn’t want to be in Ghirardelli Square?

TJ: What was the most valuable lesson you learned while you were training in Madison?

MP: Essentially we learned the sales process on the floor. We learned that people come back for the products. Of course we got a good course in the oils and vinegars. Our San Francisco operation is different from the Madison store, so we still have a few details to work out.

TJ: What is your favorite vomFASS product?

MP: All of the vinegars. They are so very, very good. I can tell how good the spices are compared to others I have used in the past. The spices are incredibly fresh and aromatic, beyond anything I have experienced before, even in specialty spice stores. I love all of the oils, which I use quite a bit. The simple syrups are terrific. I have not experienced the wellness oils yet, but I am eager to learn more. My wife, Adelaide, is a nurse and she is very excited about the wellness oils and has a much better understanding of them.

TJ: I noticed that you have Apricot Oil and Rose Hip Oil. We don’t have those in Madison at this point, and they look very interesting.

MP: Yes, they’re part of the formerly called “Crescendo” stores, and now named vomFASS Oils, Vinegars & Spices stores. They are an important component of the health and wellness concept that we were very eager to emphasize here in San Francisco.

TJ: What surprised you the most since you opened up your vomFASS store?

MP: You don’t want to know (laughing)! No, I’m kidding. Although it was apparent that people loved the products, while I was training in Madison, it wasn’t until I had my own customers that I realized just how much people loved these products! People out here just don’t know what to expect, and when they taste the products, well, I think I’ve heard the word “WOW!” more times since I opened the store than I have in my entire life! That’s the same word that comes out of everyone that tastes these products.

TJ: Well, you’re in San Francisco and that’s a “WOW” town.

MP: Also, I think “WOW” is an international expression now days.

TJ: Good point. I know you get a lot of tourists at Ghirardelli Square; any idea what the percentage of tourists is in your store?

MP: Tourists are about 80% of our traffic. We are also attracting customers from the surrounding neighborhoods, including repeat customers already. Those customers are bringing in their friends from church groups to work groups and setting up private tasting parties.

TJ: What advice would you give someone else who might be interested in opening up a vomFASS store?

MP: Get the best location you can. That’s the most important key.

TJ: Are you considering other Northern California locations?

MP: We have the right to open up to eight locations at this time. We plan to open one in Palo Alto next year.

TJ: What is your best selling product?

MP: Oh boy, it’s a five-way tie between the Aceto Maletti di Modena; the Calamansi Vinegar, Cru Cravenco Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the Grenadine Simple Syrup and, of course, the Truffle Oil which is probably our best seller. We’ve come up with some good combinations with the Truffle Oil, such as paired with the Herb Vinegar and my wife likes to pair it with the Star Date vinegar. We suggest customers pair the Truffle Oil with starches, like drizzling over popcorn; adding to risotto; as a compliment to French fries with parmesan, that sort of thing.

We sell a lot of the Truffle Salt. People who love truffles are crazy about the salt. Customers compare the amount of truffle in our salt, which is 20%, and say the last truffle salt they bought only had 5% truffles. So the price isn’t a factor to our customers when they are getting this kind of quality. In fact, we have had dozens of comments about how inexpensive our spices are. We eliminate the middleman and source our spices directly, giving us the added benefits of freshness and traceability to the origin.

TJ: Do you have a recipe you’d like to share with us?

MP: There are two things I would love to share. I combine the Basil Oil and the Garlic Oil and marinate tomatoes and onions; fresh mozzarella and drizzle with Maletti. That’s one of my absolute favorites. I also like to combine Raspberry Vinegar with FassZination Walnut Oil and drizzle the mixture over baby spinach with dried cranberries, candied walnuts and blue cheese. That’s delicious!

TJ: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Mike, and we’ll share your recipe with our readers.

 

Mike’s Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette Salad

(serves 4)

Ingredients:

¼ C. FassZination Walnut Oil

¼ C. vomFASS Raspberry Vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste

4 C. Baby Spinach, clean & dry

11 oz. Mandarin Orange Segments, drained

½ C. Dried Cranberries

½ C. Candied Walnuts

½ C. Crumbled Bleu Cheese

 

Directions:

In a small cruet, combine FassZination Walnut Oil, vomFASS Raspberry Vinegar and salt & pepper. Shake well.

 

Arrange Spinach on plates; top with Mandarin orange segments, dried cranberries and candied walnuts.

Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and sprinkle with crumbled bleu cheese.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states in the United States regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction.