Bringing Greek and Mediterranean Food Items to the Shore

By Amelia Blades Steward

Introducing the Eastern Shore to real Greek food and wine is the passion of Peter and Lucka Paris of St. Michaels. The couple started Our Greek Market by selling their marinated olives and Greek olive oils at farmers’ markets across the region in 2020 and have expanded their business to include a retail storefront and online market in Easton.

The couple met while working in Prague in 2001. Lucka, who grew up in the Czech Republic, worked for Microsoft. Peter, who grew up in Cambridge, was teaching business English to CEOs and other professionals there. Eventually, the couple started an English language training company together in Prague and married. When Peter’s mother got sick in 2006, the couple moved to St. Michaels to help care for her. Most of Peter’s Greek family lived in Baltimore, but his father, an avid sailor, wanted to raise his family on the Eastern Shore, which is how his mother still remained there.

Lucka and Peter Paris own Our Greek Market that offers quality Greek and Mediterranean gourmet items.

Once in St. Michaels, Peter and Lucka founded the St. Michaels Running Festival with Sparrow Rogers. Lucka was a runner and introduced her husband to the sport. The festival was a success, so the couple then started the Bay Bridge Run, which had equal success for several years. After having children, they decided to sell both companies to spend more time with their new family.

Peter and Lucka had always enjoyed cooking and further developed a family recipe for marinated olives that was coveted by friends and family. They had always brought Greek cheeses and olive oils back from Baltimore for friends as Peter’s cousin Nick was a wholesale importer.

“Greek food has always been something that was a part of me. I grew up in a big Greek family and everybody in my family, at one point or another, has been in the food or restaurant business,” Peter shares.

“Our family members all have recipes for marinated olives, but this recipe is a combination of my grandmother’s and probably my great-grandmother’s recipes. The key ingredients in the recipe are garlic-infused balsamic vinegar, Greek red wine vinegar, and olive brine. It includes high-end ingredients combined with a simple cooking process. Making our recipe shelf-stable made the olives even better,” Peter shares.

Our Greek Market’s marinated Greek olives is a big seller.

Friends started encouraging them to sell the marinated olives and the couple was looking for their next business opportunity. In 2020, their business, Our Greek Market, was born. It initially operated out of a commercial kitchen in the Easton Business Park on Glebe Road, selling its products in farmers’ markets for about two years before adding food events, such as the D.C. Metro Food Show and the Chocolates, Wines & Whiskey Shows in Richmond and Philadelphia. Now, in addition to farmers’ markets, they sell their products at wine festivals, and home and garden shows, and also have a successful online presence.

The obvious next step for Peter and Lucka was to open a retail store, which they did in November 2023 at 29523 Canvasback Drive, Suite 101, in Easton. On the second Thursday of each month, the shop hosts a tasting party from 4 to 6 p.m., which has been a smashing success to getting people to their new retail location and to sample the pairings of wines and Greek delicacies.

According to Peter, the business is licensed by the State of Maryland and Talbot County to sell retail products. To date, they have about 10 products, including balsamic vinegars, olive oils, cheeses, different types of olives, and other gourmet delicacies. The couple takes pride in curating a selection of the finest quality Greek and Mediterranean gourmet items.

“There was nothing like this business here on the Eastern Shore,” adds Peter. When selecting items to sell, Peter and Lucka look into the origins of the foods and decide if they are pleasing to their tastebuds.

Lucka comments, “We both have European taste buds because I’m a European and he grew up with Greek foods. Everything that’s in the store is approved and tested by us. We buy things that we know are good.”

One special thing about their products is their single-source Greek olive oils, which means they are only made from mills that press olives that are regionally grown. They also have a small line of Greek balsamic vinegars and an authentic line of Italian balsamic vinegars.

“The farmers’ markets were kind of like market research for us. We saw what people were responding to and got feedback from the customers,” Lucka adds.

The couple is very happy about the response they are getting to their products. They are now making spreads and dips, including a fire-roasted red pepper Fetta spread and black olive tapenade.

“We are bringing in Greek yogurt and artesian aged wheels of cheese and semi-hard Greek cheeses. And now we’ve also started with some softer cheeses and frozen foods like baklava, spanakopita, pita bread, and Greek sausages. We are planning to add racks of grass-fed New Zealand lamb,” adds Peter.

“Our Greek party charcuterie trays are also very popular. We share them at our monthly wine tastings where we are introducing phenomenal Greek red and white wines from smaller Greek estates,” adds Lucka. “The Greek wines don’t have the recognition they should have.”

Our Greek Market now has a production staff, a sales team, and a retail staff to keep up with the growing demand. The next steps for the business are to increase its in-house product lines, including smaller portion prepared meals, different types of Greek salads, and grab-and-go meals. They also hope to create an outside café where clients can come and enjoy small plates and a glass of wine.

“We want to start doing some smaller private parties where we have the opportunity to educate people on Greek wine and food – a Greek sampling tour for small groups of 10 or 15 people,” states Peter.

“It has already been popular among some of our civic clubs and organizations. The St. Michaels Women’s Club recently hosted a tasting event. It would also be a nice addition for book clubs and other informal gatherings.”

“We want to build a brand with our products and are excited to share that brand with this community,” Peter adds.

Our Greek Market will host a wine-sampling event with multiple Greek wines and light Greek hors d’oeuvres at the end of June or early July 2024. Visit ourgreeekmarket.org or the store’s Facebook page to confirm the date. For further information about Our Greek Market, call 410-690-3611 or email info@ourgreekmarket.com.

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