From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
Niko and Oana Adamopoulos are bringing specialty products from around the Mediterranean – including from Greece, Italy, Spain and Tunisia — to Dupont Circle. The Greek couple recently signed a lease for 1717 Connecticut Avenue NW and plans to open The Mediterranean Way, a gourmet market, late this summer.
The two married in 2011 and have settled in DC’s Dupont Circle. Niko was a consultant in DC almost a decade ago, and when the couple decided to leave Greece due to the economic situation there, he was happy to return to Washington for another contract job.
Niko has an economics degree and an MBA in international business. After returning to Greece from his first job in the States, he founded an export and marketing company for Greek olive oil and wine producers. In his role at the company, he attended food and wine events and became familiar with gourmet and artisan producers.
The couple missed these products from their country, and, noticing the scarcity of Mediterranean specialty shops in the area, wanted to bring these products here and share them with DC residents. Many “small, family-run businesses don’t have the marketing aptitude or language skills” to export their products to the US, Niko said. They are now working with many such producers to help them import their goods to the US for the first time.
Oana has an academic background in biology and chemistry, and she recently completed a certificate in nutrition. She lived in Tuscany for five years and managed a cafe there, which cultivated her interest in cooking and high-quality ingredients.
Once the store opens, Oana will give nutrition advice to customers. She will be there during business hours to answer questions about food preparation, recipe ideas and (of course) the Mediterranean Diet.
Mooussaka, Chorizos, Wines and Coffee
The store will focus mainly on grocery and pantry items imported from the Mediterranean. Shoppers can expect to find feta, olive oil, chorizo, Serrano ham and many different spreads. However, the Adamopouloses plan to offer local and organic produce, as well as a variety of to-go lunches and ready-made traditional Greek foods, like moussaka, prepared by a local supplier.
The store will also stock equipment to make Greek coffee, and a few personal care items. The Adamopouloses are especially excited about products made with mastiha, or gum from the sap of a tree grown on Chios Island, off the coast of Greece. Thought to be a natural digestive aid, Greeks use it in liqueurs, digestives and other food products, but also in soaps and cosmetics. The Mediterranean Way will also carry skin care products made with Dead Sea minerals.
Niko also hopes to put his “vast knowledge of Greek wines” to use if he is able to get the license to stock wines. He plans to carry wines from his favorite Greek winemakers, and also a selection of Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French wines.
The Adamopouloses are also already focused on giving back to their new community. In Greece, Niko was involved with Human Library Greece, an organization dedicated to combating discrimination and prejudice. He wants to carry his commitment to human rights through into his business. At the end of the year, The Mediterranean Way will donate 5% of its profits to a human rights organization. Local non-profits can nominate their causes, and customers will vote on which organization will receive the donation.
Niko and Oana Adamopoulos will be at the Greek Embassy for the EU Embassies’ Open House this Saturday, May 11. Visitors can sample olive oil at The Mediterranean Way stand and get a first taste of the store before it opens this summer.