Family grove in Greece supplies olive oils to coastal Texas markets
Peter Marules likes keeping it simple. He sells olive oil and olives — imported from his family’s homeland in Greece. Oh, and honey and spices, too.
“We expanded our product line,” Marules said. “But everything is from our little city in Greece.”
Marules is a regular at farmers markets and festivals across the upper Texas coast. In fact, that’s the only way his company, Lakonia Imports, sells such products as Malva extra virgin olive oil. The company also has an active website.
Marules and his cousin Kyriakos Maroulakos take great pride in their products. Another relative in Aghios Nikolaos, a tiny fishing hamlet in southern Greece on the Mediterranean Sea, has an olive grove of 4,000 trees, which he maintains and supplies products to Marules. Two different types of olives are grown — Koroneiki, a large green olive, and the award-winning Athenolia, which is a smaller green olive. When correctly pressed, the two types of olives produce high-end oil, Marules said.
“Once you taste this, you know it is different than other olive oils,” he said.
Marules and Maroulakos set up their company in 2018. A friend at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market allowed him to set up a stand and it was a success. Several other farmers markets declined a request for him to show because their product wasn’t locally produced. But then came the pandemic and farmers markets were scrambling for vendors. Lakonia Imports accepted every invitation and now is a regular at 15 markets a week, including the Bay Area Farmers Market, Friendswood Farmers Market and Kemah Texas Farmers Market, as well as festivals such as the Galveston Island Shrimp Festival, Clear Lake Greek Festival, Moody Gardens Herb Fair and the Clear Lake Shore Yacht Club.
The company has expanded and has a sales force of five, plus Peter, his wife Janell and Maroulakos.
Restaurants also order his oil and olives for their customers.
“It is really a tremendous product,” said Larry Kriticos, owner of Kritikos Grill on the Seawall in Galveston. “We use the oil in our dressing, in our cooking and in the dips.”
The company also sells oils at Katie’s Seafood Market at Pier 19 in Galveston, and its olives are available The Kitchen Chick in the island’s downtown.
Marules acknowledges the oil is somewhat expensive: $29 for about a half quart. But it tastes different from most virgin olive oils sold at supermarkets, he said.
“There is a color difference, depending on where the trees are grown,” he said. “And what makes for the special flavor is where it is grown — the soil, the temperatures, the climate — and how it is harvested and processed.”
Besides the oil, which is cold pressed within hours of the olives coming off the trees, Lakonia Imports also sells jars of pitted olives — Halkidiki and Kalamata — tht also are imported and bathed in a solution of the special oil with a selection of Greek herbs.
Harvest season is coming soon: October to November. Marules is planning to visit his relatives in Aghios Nikoloas and witness the careful quality control in the production, he said.
“I really have a lot of pride for my family,” he said. “This product represents my family’s village and my heritage. And there’s a lot of hard work for my family. But it is worth it.”