by Justin Vick

Weeks after celebrating the one-year anniversary of Isabella’s Fine Olive Oils and Vinegars in Mooresville, Cynthia Tupman has opened a second store at Birkdale Village in Huntersville.

The Conover resident opened her first store at 591 River Hwy., because she saw Mooresville as a community that supports local business. But Tupman’s goal has always been to expand Isabella’s beyond Mooresville.

“I really thought it would be sooner,” she said of opening her second store. “It doesn’t come soon enough, in the fact that if we don’t sell this olive oil, they are not available to the public anywhere else.”

Isabella’s carries more than 42 fresh premium flavors of high quality, extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from countries such as Chile, Australia, Spain, Italy, Greece and France.

Customers can sample them before they buy.

“We fill bottles of our olive oils according to demand,” Tupman said. “We don’t want to have them pre-bottled, because light and heat makes it decay faster.”

She’s more than the owner of an olive oil shop. Tupman finds herself thrust into an advocacy role, promoting the heath benefits of introducing fresh-pressed extra olive oils into people’s diets.

“I love food, but I love understanding how it interacts with your body,” said Tupman, a former stay-at-home mom with a food science degree. “I love the chemistry. It comes natural to me.”

Olive oils in her shop are labeled with the amount of oleic acid (which measures freshness) and polyphenol (which measures bitterness). Higher amounts mean healthier products.

Suzanne Meyer was skeptical about the health benefits of olive oil until she started buying it from Isabella’s instead of the grocery store. She began pouring it on her breads and salads.

“My cholesterol is lower, my knees don’t hurt and I love the way it tastes,” Meyer said. She hasn’t adjusted her exercise regimen or diet outside of olive oil.

Many of Tupman’s customers tell her that they can’t go back to the grocery store after tasting her products.

“When you taste it, it’s a night and day difference to what we been exposed to our entire lives,” Tupman said. “It’s something that should be shared.”

Tupman views Lake Norman as a growing market. And she hopes to launch even more locations.

“Anything worthwhile takes time,” she said. “If good things were easy, everyone would do them.”

Want to go?

Isabella’s Fine Olive Oils and Vinegars will celebrate its Birkdale Village opening at 16835 Birkdale Commons Pkwy., Huntersville, with a ribbon-cutting at 5 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Patrons can learn about food pairings to complement meals and the health benefits of extra virgin olive oils.