Cruise inspired new kitchen store and its name
DOVER - In many ways, Cordelia Garofalo’s new kitchen supply store, Opa, is a family spot. On a Monday morning, Garofalo is joined in the shop by her mother, Didi Garofalo, and both refer often to Grace, 8, Coredlia’s daughter and sidekick of sorts. Even though she’s not at Opa at the moment, Grace’s talents can be seen throughout the shop. She’s helped her mom pick out decor and decide which wares the store will sell. In fact, she even made some of them. In addition to other locally-made goods, Opa features potholders made by Grace herself.
“She’s very energetic and enthusiastic about all of it,” says Cordelia Garofalo. “And it’s something we can do together on Saturdays.”
It’s a memory that the grandmother, mother, and daughter shared that led to the naming of the shop itself. Garofalo says the three were on a Disney cruise last year when the phrase “Opa!” found its way into their hearts. When they were trying to name the shop, it kept coming to mind.
“Our waiter, who was Hungarian, did magic tricks after dinner every night,” says Garofalo. “At the end of his magic tricks, he would go ‘Opa!’ and we were just all so happy. We were eating and celebrating. So we asked him what it means, and there’s no direct translation, but it just means joy and happiness. It’s kind of an exclamation.”
Garofalo says the store, which is on Route 100 next to Eco-tique, was an idea that came to her through Eco-tique’s owner, Liz Fryer. “Liz told me that people were always asking her for kitchen tools like whisks,” says Garofalo. “And she said ‘I think there could be a real opportunity for a store focused on kitchen supplies here.’”
The idea was born around the holidays and by February, Garofalo had opened her doors. She calls it a whirlwind, and since opening, she’s built up stock and has begun to think about what type of events and other community-building opportunities the store may offer. To that end, on May 18, she’s hosting her first recipe swap.
“People can come and bring their favorite dish,” says Garofalo. “And then I’ll make recipe cards and we can trade so you can try each other’s dishes and take home the recipe if you want to make it yourself.”
Opa is stocked with a range of kitchen-themed items, from the practical — colanders, the aforementioned whisk, and Garafalo’s new favorite appliance, the multi-cooker — to gifts, such as dips and other consumable treats.
“I want quality products and things that people will find useful, as well as pretty things,” she says, noting goods from local artists, such as Tessa Atwood’s quilted placemats and Linda Sherman’s hooked rugs. “I’m trying to bring a local aspect to the traditional kitchen store.”
Garofalo, who also works as a real estate agent, says she’s found the store creatively fulfilling in ways that real estate is limited in providing.
“With real estate you have zero control over the situation,” says Garofalo. “Everyone’s negotiating based on what their best interests are, and we’re in the middle of that trying to make it smooth and be helpful. But a septic system could have issues and there’s nothing I can do about that. The kitchen store is bringing a lot more creativity and joy. Talking to people about what they like to make. It just makes me happy to come in here.”
Garofalo says that though she didn’t grow up dreaming of owning her own store, at a certain point the idea began to inspire her. She recalls that on the same cruise where she heard “Opa!” a dining-mate had her own pizza shop and talked about it at dinner.
“She had a pizza shop and she called it her store,” says Garofalo. “And she was always talking about her store. And I said, ‘I want to do something so fun like that. I want to have my own business.’ So as soon as I posted on Facebook that I was opening Opa, she responded and said ‘You got your dream!’”
Those who are interested in attending Opa’s inaugural recipe swap event, which is happening from 5 to 8 pm Friday, May 18, can find more information about it on the store’s Facebook page, where details about Opa’s upcoming grand opening, tentatively planned to happen around Independence Day, will also be posted.