The cousins behind the new deli with Mediterranean flair called in Holmdel Village hope their venture will take root and eventually spread to new locations like a vine throughout Monmouth County.
Their plan is to first build a reputation for "healthy food for busy people" with great attitude and a clean atmosphere. Going forward, the co-owners plan to build up a breakfast business, purchase locally from farmers and fishermen, add online ordering, sell the chef's jarred sauces and offer a daily family dinner for parents on-the-go. Then, duplicate the success in nearby towns.
"This is just the beginning," said Denis O'Connor, the gravelly-voiced New York chef, now living in Lincroft, who rises at 4:30 a.m. to whip up homemade meatballs, roasted meats, and special recipe sauces and spreads at the deli at 37 Main Street (Route 520/Newman Springs Rd.), seven days a week.
His partner in Cracked Olive is Dan Duffy, 36, who was persuaded to leave his job selling jewelry in Beverly Hills to run the front of the house. Duffy, a super-friendly host, is quickly learning the food business from his high-energy cousin, who spent 25 years in the kitchens of famous New York chefs including Charlie Palmer, Terrance Brennan and David Bouley. "It's like someone shot him out of cannon," Duffy said Monday, with admiration.
Their 1,900 square foot deli is still referred to as the longtime "Dom's Deli" by locals, even though Villa Somma most recently served pizza there for seven years. The building dates back to the early 1900s, when it was a general store, and has a prized brick oven. For some time it has been the only place to get a hot lunch. The cousins opened for business on May 1.
Although foot traffic has virtually vanished from the historic Village shops, there are plenty of real estate agents, construction workers, and school employees nearby that need to grab lunch. Behind the deli is Vonage, with 4,000 employees who O'Connor said receive a $5 stipend to eat in the corporate cafeteria every day. "It's a great location. If I can just have ten percent of that traffic out there," he said, as traffic whizzed by, "or some of the Vonage employees, I'm good."
A pizzeria under construction around the corner, on Holmdel Road, is no worry, said O'Connor. "There is plenty of business for all of us," he said.
The menu, which you can find here, has prices for egg sandwiches, salads, sandwiches, wraps, heros, paninis, and pasta.
Catering is available. In fact, Cracked Olive is pleased to have its first catering job this weekend for a Sweet Sixteen, just next door at the rental hall at Holmdel Fire House #1.
That may also be the location for a great St. Patrick's Day party and feast the the Irish-American cousins have already starting talking about with the firemen for next March.
Cracked Olive strives to be nut-free. A gluten-free menu is in the works. In addition to the best-selling "Aunt Rose" meatballs and roast beef, vegetarian favorites like homemade hummous, baba ganoush and tzakiki sauce are offered with grilled pita bread, black bean soup and stuffed grape leaves.
The Cracked Olive
- Website: crackedolive.com
- Hours: Monday-Friday 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
- Address: 37 Main Street, Holmdel NJ 07733 (near the intersection with Route 520.)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 732-946-4115
- Fax: 732-946-8857