PHOTOS BY Hillary Ehlen
Christine Diebel was looking for ways to pursue a healthier lifestyle and came across olive oils and balsamic vinegar in her research. “I never really liked either product and as I researched, I found out the reason why was because the U.S. doesn’t regulate extra virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar,” Diebel said. “What a lot of consumers don’t realize is they aren’t getting the real deal when they purchase it from supermarkets or even some specialty stores.”
This realization led Diebel, who is originally from Fargo, to want to share her knowledge about food quality in this area and, after doing her research, to bring the community Reese & Riley’s Olive Oil & Bistro Bar, a Mediterranean restaurant that opened on Nov. 7.
All of Reese & Riley’s products are incorporated into every dish. “Even if you don’t traditionally consume oil and vinegar, you can come in and try it with what you’re ordering,” Diebel said.
They don’t use any other fat or seasonings at Reese & Riley’s because many of the flavors are infused with the oils and vinegar. “They’re so true to their names, too, because they aren’t artificially flavored,” she said. “The flavors come from the extracts of the herbs, fruits and vegetables, so it’s the real deal. The oil is 100 percent olive oil, and everything is tested before it’s imported to make sure the quality and freshness are all there without other fractionated oils.”
They also serve beer and wine to complement the food and have a grab-and-go olive bar.
The retail side comes in with Reese & Riley’s tasting room, where they have olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste test and purchase.
“There are more than 70 different flavors of olive oils and balsamic vinegar, but then you can also mix them, creating hundreds of unique flavors to use,” Diebel said.
She has started catering to local businesses with the goal of getting them out of the realm of the same food that they traditionally order with hopes to also build on renting the space out. “I think I have four or five weddings already for the summertime and some businesses that want the entire restaurant for office parties,” she said.
Diebel made the decision to do a soft opening for her new restaurant. “I feel like people are always running before they are walking and then they fall flat on their face,” she said. “I want sustainability. This isn’t a place to go when you want to go out to eat, this is an experience. People come here to gather around farm tables with their family and friends, turn off their cell phones, indulge in real, homecooked food and have actual conversations.”
Diebel doesn’t know if she’d classify herself as a restaurant. “It’s a different category because it’s all about education,” she said. “Regardless of whether people purchase their oils or vinegar from me, I do want them to have a great time while they’re here, but I also think that with knowledge comes power. When you are educated in your buying abilities, you tend to make better choices and decisions and that’s the only thing that’s going to alter this industry. For it to eventually become regulated, people are going to have to put their foot down.”
Reese & Riley’s
2653 45th St. S, Fargo