People in the Know – Penelope Pankow of F. Olivers


F. Oliver’s offers culinary products at three locations in the Finger Lakes Region. They encourage customers to explore flavors and new ways to cook with their exceptional extra virgin olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars and freshly ground spices. Visit their three locations or order online at

LIFL: What was your inspiration for starting F. Oliver’s?

Penelope: I saw the concept for an oil and vinegar tasting room and felt that it was a great way to be in the food and hospitality business without having a restaurant. I was also motivated by the opportunity to inspire others in their cooking.

When did you open the three locations?

Our Canandaigua location just celebrated its 10th birthday! We opened in spring 2010. Unfortunately, our 10-year anniversary party has been put off, but we definitely WILL have a party. The Rochester F. Oliver’s opened in July 2011, and the Ithaca location opened in May 2012.

What do customers most like about the products you offer?

I believe that our customers first appreciate that they know exactly what they are getting because they have had the opportunity to taste everything prior to buying. They definitely buy from us because of the quality of our oils, vinegars, and spices. That quality translates to exceptional flavor.

What part of the Finger Lakes Region do you like the most?

From a geographic standpoint, there are so many beautiful areas in our beloved Finger Lakes that is it hard to say which I like most. However, I would have to say that The Inns of Aurora on Cayuga Lake is one of my favorite places in the whole world.

From a broader standpoint, the part of the Finger Lakes Region that I like the most is that the wineries and other hospitality venues are all working together to make our region the best that it can be and to promote it as such. 

In what way are you a different person today because of starting the business?

I have learned (most of the time!) not to react to things that happen as good or bad. Something may happen that you think is the worst thing that could possibly be, but in time it proves to be a really good thing and vice versa. I have also learned that we all need space and time to be the best that we can be. Continually pushing does not produce optimal results.

What words of wisdom would you pass onto your childhood self?

GO FOR IT! Go after your dreams, follow your intuition, and don’t be afraid. And, always ask questions.

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