Local Food a Secret to Restaurant’s Success

The Recorder, January 7th, 2015, by Tom Relihan

It’s the business mantra that just about everyone has heard before: restaurants are have a notoriously high rate of failure compared to other ventures.

But in Greenfield, the Hope & Olive at the corner of Hope Street and Olive Street has been going strong for nearly eight years, weathering the economic downturn and regularly operating at capacity.

So, what’s the trick?

Maggie Zaccara, who owns the popular eatery with her brother Jim, said it’s a combination of the work culture, a dedication to fresh, local foods and lots of variety.

“We came into it with knowledge and expertise, and we kind of have a formula that we’ve stuck with. It seems to have spoken to the community,” she said. The siblings also own Magpie brick-fired pizzeria on Bank Row, and Maggie Zaccara was formerly an owner of A Bottle of Bread, another restaurant in Shelburne.

The first trick, Maggie Zaccara said, is to keep the restaurant’s menu interesting. Most of Hope & Olive’s food moves with the seasons and what’s available, she said, because it’s mostly locally sourced.

“Our product is what we believe in, and that’s food accessibility,” she said. “We want to keep it affordable, local and interesting. Local food, in my mind, is just use what you have. Support the local economy. It’s the freshest, and it makes the most sense when we have such a rich farming community right here.”

To that end, Zaccara said she switches up the menu four times per year. The eatery also changes its specials menu weekly. It has a separate bar menu, which Zaccara said allows people to come in and sit down for an entree meal, or sit at the wrap-around bar and have a few smaller dishes or a quick lunch. It lets people come to the restaurant to hold special events, or just bring a date.

On the topic of beer, Zaccara said the bar’s extensive craft beer menu also changes regularly.

“We encompass a lot of different style’s in one place,” she said. “We keep a lot of options, so people can come more than once per week.”

Part of that seasonal mindset, she said, is sourcing the local food that’s available to craft the menu.

The final factor is hiring the right staff. Zaccara said Hope & Olive tries to find staff members who are like-minded and pay them well, so that there’s less turnover. That keeps the restaurant running like “a well-oiled machine,” she said, as was evident by the staff milling about during an interview Tuesday night.

“That’s a big part of the hard part of keeping restaurants open, that turnover,” Zaccara said. “We’ve seen some employees come and go, but lots stay.”