2600 Fair Oaks Blvd. Suite 103, Sacramento, CA 95864. (916) 974-7467

I love the Temple Coffee by my cottage (the S Street location) but every once in awhile I'll stop by the one on Fair Oaks Blvd. when I'm out and about in Mr.S.'s neighborhood. This week while frantically running errands, I stopped at the F.O. location to pick up a cup of joe to go. As I walked towards the coffee shop,  I noticed a cute scooter parked in front of a new business called Villa Sicilia. Turns out it's a small shop dedicated to olive oil. Perfecto! I thought maybe I'd pop in and see if there were any cool Christmas goodies I could pick up as gifts. Most of my friends cook and I know a good olive oil is always appreciated.

Vroom! Vroom! ☺

The interior of the shop was quite nice. The left wall was equipped with several stainless steel tasting dispensers of olive oils and balsamic vinegars where you could pour yourself a sample to taste and smell. Each dispenser is labeled with the flavor and a brief description of the product. There was a variety of flavors; the ones that caught my eye were Ginger-Honey, Wild Mushroom and Sage, and Black Truffle. Mmm! There were also several fruit (such as apricot, lemon, peach) infused olive oils and vinegars. Once you found an oil or vinegar flavor you liked you could take the pre-poured bottle to the counter and the sales assistant would shrink wrap a seal on the top of the bottle for you. They can make gift baskets for you too if you ask. On the right side, the shop carried a smattering of imported pasta, jams and decorative serving plates. There were also a few jars of tasty sounding condiments like Calabrian hot pepper paste and pistachio butter. I also heard that Villa Sicilia may in the near future be carrying some cool Italian craft beers and wines.

Overall, my impression of Villa Sicilia was that it was a cute store with reasonable prices (the smaller bottles run about $8) and a varied selection. It's a nice addition to the Arden-Arcade shopping scene (which has always been a bit lackluster) and would be a great place to pick up a gift for a foodie friend or a last minute hostess gift. My only issue with the establishment was that the sales staff seemed especially enthusiastic to help the 45+ crowd (most likely because they think they'll spend more) but ignored other customers. I was in the small shop for over 25 minutes and not once was I greeted, asked if I needed any assistance or even given a smile until I went up to the counter to pay for my purchase (and the store wasn't that busy). The owner (I believe it was the owner--a brunette with long, dark, curly hair. She seemed to be running the show.) practically jumped on the patrons that came in after me but I was left to wander about on my own. I even made several passes around the shop to see if she would say anything, but...nothing.  I finally went and stood at the counter and waited to ask the cashier my question and it turned out she was new and had to ask the owner. The owner answered my inquiry but seemed slightly irked that she had to stop her fawning on another customer to answer a question about a product that I was interested in buying. The whole situation left me feeling a bit awkward and annoyed. It also reminded me of something from a job I worked at years ago. I worked for Raley's Corporate Office in their Shopping Services division. One of the big things we would evaluate the store employees on was a concept called the "5 Foot Rule." If a customer was within five feet of you, you needed to acknowledge them verbally somehow. It really personalizes the service and makes the customer feel welcome. As a small business, Villa Sicilia should embrace this concept. Considering there are plenty of companies to buy olive oil from in the area (Bariani, Lucero, Big Paw and Coldani; not to mention, there's another boutique olive oil store in town- The Chefs' Olive Mix in Old Sac); I would hope they would look into remedying the situation and extend friendly welcomes to all customers in the future whether they look like your typical specialty olive oil buying clientele or not.
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