SJC Long Island legacy family Candace Muñoz ’02 and Steven Muñoz ’10, mother and son, own The Amazing Olive stores in Port Jefferson and Patchogue, respectively. Candace’s daughter Nicole Marbot Perez ’97 also helps out around the shops.
“We always went to Port Jeff to visit and hang out, and we just thought it would be the perfect place for (the shop),” Candace said of her decision to open in Port Jefferson six years ago.
As a part-time student, Steven worked at FedEx Monday through Friday and helped out at his mother’s store on the weekends. Inspired by the enjoyable environment at his mom’s shop and fueled by a desire to leave behind the corporate work atmosphere, Steven saved enough money to open his own store in Patchogue.
“I knew I wanted to build my own business with my own finances from the ground up,” he said. “I chose Patchogue because I graduated from St. Josephs and used to visit the village every chance I got. From my time at St. Joe’s, I saw the transformation that Patchogue Village was going through. There was a renaissance in the commerce of Patchogue, largely due to the restaurant boom going on, and I felt that it was the right time for a new retail shop in the community. Two years later it has been going great, and I feel that the community has embraced our shop.”
Why Olive Oil?
When asked where the passion for olive oil stemmed from, Candace explained that she was inspired by a store she visited while on vacation.
“We went into a shop in North Carolina, and we just fell in love with it,” she said. “We were tasting everything and we loved it. Then I got in touch with the California Olive Oil Council, and they sent me books and videos. So I learned more about it, and we thought this would be a good fit.”
Candace, who’s also a teacher retiring in 2019, finds joy in combining her two passions.
“I teach classes in my shop on the correct way to try olive oils, the different types of extra virgin olive oils, and the difference between white and dark balsamic vinegar,” she said. “My teaching has fallen over into this business.”
Candace and Steven’s dedication to their product is demonstrated in their work; they sell award-winning extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from all around the world.
“Believe it or not, there are olive oil competitions,” Steven laughed. “I love selling a product that is delicious and healthy that everyone loves.”
Both shops carry extra virgin olive oils, which range from delicate to medium to robust, and flavored olive oils, which are infused with herbs and foods such as rosemary, garlic and basil. They also offer aged balsamic vinegars and infused vinegars, most of which are fruit-driven, with flavors including raspberry, cranberry, cherry, pineapple and mango.
They specialize in gift baskets, party favors, wedding favors and corporate gifts too.
Why St. Joseph’s College?
Despite having her certification in early childhood and having 15 years of experience teaching at a private preschool, Candace found she couldn’t get a job in a public school district without a degree in higher education.
“I chose St. Joseph’s because I heard so many good things about it being a teaching school,” Candace said. “Their reputation for teaching is amazing.”
As an adult learner, Candace never struggled to feel welcomed or get involved.
“I took one of (Dr.) Diane Sherlip‘s psychology classes, and we immediately bonded,” she said. “She actually asked me to take other classes of hers because I was always participating. I must’ve taken three or four of her classes. She was a great teacher, and I actually remained friends with her after.”
Hers and her daughter’s experiences at SJC Long Island had a lasting impact on Steven.
“I chose St. Joe’s because of my mom and my sister,” Steven continued. “They had a good experience there. I originally went away for a few years, but I wanted to come home and work. I figured, what better place to work and go to school than St. Joe’s, because I saw my mom do it.
“I would say that Charles Lundin inspired me the most during my time at St. Joseph’s,” he said. “His lectures were always informative and kept the students engaged. Outside of history, I feel that I learned a lot from him in terms of public speaking.”
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A big thank you to @sjcnyalumni for coming to our shop in Patchogue. Thank you for interviewing us about our family business. My mother, sister and I are all proud @sjcny graduates! -Steve #amazingolive #sjcny #sjcnyalumni #balsamicart #balsamic #oliveoil #giftbag #1916 #alumni #stjoes #stjosephscollege
Stop by either Amazing Olive location, and sample any of their oils and vinegars (but make sure you check out the video at the top first to find out the proper way to do so!)
Once you pick out your favorite flavors, ask how you can get a customized label — like the St. Joseph’s one below!