Olive Tree Café, a full service Mediterranean restaurant owned by locals, has opened in the Newark Delaware suburbs to meet the demands of a more international and adventurous eating population that has taken over the college town and New Castle County in the last several years.
The small “mom and pop” restaurant opened in May in Chestnut Hill Plaza on Rt. 4 near the intersection with Marrows Road. Offering cuisine from Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco, Spain, and France, the food, décor, and service have already received glowing reviews from guests on Facebook and Yelp, and it seems a real gap has been filled. Offering brunch, lunch, dinner, and specialty drinks and desserts, this place has something for everyone. There are also dozens of vegetarian options, including salads, appetizers, sandwiches, soups, and entrees.
Owners Stephanie Ferrell and Elias Rhanim live right down the road from their new business and said they wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant that would be casual and comfortable enough to stop in for a bite while running errands, while still feeling special enough for a date night or group celebration.
Stephanie, who has lived in Delaware for most of her 37 years, met her husband during a year abroad after finishing her undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Delaware. The two ended up living together in Paris, France, for almost 5 years before moving back to Delaware. Elias is originally from Morocco, but grew up living in Paris, then studying and working in England, Scotland, and Belgium. He worked in his family’s small Parisian restaurants and hotels, holding every position from dishwasher to sous chef to General Manager.
Elias was very disappointed at the selection and quality of food from his region of the world when he came to Delaware in 2009. So on top of working as an HR and Finance Manager for an international shipping company at the Port of Wilmington, he worked in a country club kitchen and a hotel in Chadds Ford, PA to get experience with American cooking and hospitality. Then in 2014, while juggling two full time jobs, a toddler, and a pregnancy, the couple labored to bring Elias’ dream to life.
More than a year later, on the 6th anniversary of Elias’ arrival in the US, they opened their first restaurant. Now they both work there full time, and you can often see 3 ½ year old Sam and 7 month old Zak in the evenings and weekends. One or the other of the couple is always at the restaurant, checking in on guests and overseeing the kitchen and front of house. They’re confident the food is great, and they are determined to make sure every guest has a great experience.
Elias says, “In the first three months that Olive Tree Café has been open, I’ve met hundreds of neighbors and we’ve helped new friends celebrate birthdays, graduations, Ramadan, and even a baby shower. I love that this has already become a place that attracts a very diverse customer base, and that there is a shared appreciation of the cultures and tastes from the Mediterranean”.
Olive Tree Café is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. The hours and menu will be expanded over time. In addition to dining in, delivery and takeout, Olive Tree Café is available for private events and catering.