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Kristi Kates - September 27th, 2010
foodie fun at Fustini’s
By Kristi Kates
Their Traverse City shop has already snagged rave reviews, some from
this very publication. But lately, it’s the Petoskey incarnation of
Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars that’s the talk of the foodie part of
“Within three months of opening our Traverse City store, we realized
that there would be sufficient demand to open another tasting room and
bottling shop,” explains Fustini’s co-owner Jim Milligan, who owns
Fustini’s with his wife, Lane Milligan. “This logically led us to
Petoskey,” he says, “with its great restaurants and the terrific
downtown shopping market in the Gaslight District.”

Not only do the two main elements of Fustini’s - the oils and
vinegars, of course - form the all-important foundation for the
Milligan’s business, but the Milligans are a team of their own, having
decided to do something that would capitalize on both of their unique
individual skills.
“In October of 2007, I took an early retirement after a 30-year
corporate career in Minnesota,” Jim Milligan explains, “and I had seen
tasting rooms like (what Fustini’s would become) in Europe. So my wife
and I decided to do something where we could both bring our different
skills to an opportunity, and do it in an area where we both wanted to
“She is a great cook, and a very talented graphic artist,” he
continues. “My background is in marketing, sales, and general
management. We love Northern Michigan - it’s a great tourism market
with great restaurants and wineries, and interesting downtown
shopping, dining, and entertainment markets. We thought all of these
factors would generate traffic for a boutique shop like Fustini’s.”

For those who haven’t visited yet, Fustini’s is perhaps unlike any
other gourmet shop you’ve ever been. Both an oil and vinegar shop and
a tasting room, the staff are informative and helpful, and the process
of choosing your oils and vinegars is more fun than anything else.
“We try to make every guest feel welcome by guiding every customer
through the process as much or as little as they want or need us to,”
explains Petoskey Fustini’s Store Manager Charlene Hunt. “We are
always happy to share our ideas and recipes with everyone.”
With over 50 bright stainless steel fustini - the dispensers used to
portion out the oils and vinegars (hence the shop’s name) - lining
both sides of the store, the room gives off the ambiance of something
both exotic and technical, like a perfume boutique or a research
center. But the oils and vinegars are the focus, and there are plenty
of them to further investigate.
“If you’ve ever visited one of our stores, you’ll know that an
important part of the experience that we offer our guests is variety,”
Milligan says.

The oils and vinegars, in over 50 varieties, are also offered in some
seasonal versions; this fall’s featured items are just a few examples
of the nearly endless combinations and options for customers to choose
“For this fall, we have a Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar that is
perfect for drizzling over an apple strudel or crisp, and paired with
our Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it makes the perfect salad
dressing for a spinach or arugula salad,” explains Hunt. “We also have
an Asian Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar that makes a wonderful marinade
for chicken or dressing for a garbanzo bean salad when paired with our
Chipotle Extra Virgin Olive Oil; and our Sage and Wild Mushroom Extra
Virgin Olive Oil is always a staple in my Thanksgiving cooking - it’s
great for stuffing, vegetables, or for the turkey.”
Freshness is another aspect of Fustini’s - because everything is
bottled on site, the company can guarantee the freshness of the
product. And the quirky, specially-designed labels designed by Lane
Milligan add another unique element to the shopping experience, one
that’s drawing foodie fans to all of their stores, including their
Petoskey locale, on a regular basis.
Milligan, who with his wife now owns four Fustini’s locations -
Petoskey, Traverse City, Holland, and Ann Arbor (plus an online store)
opened the doors to the Petoskey locale of Fustini’s in June of last
year, and they haven’t looked back. “Both from the local and the
tourism markets,” he smiles, “the response has been terrific.”

Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars is located at 209 Howard Street in
downtown Petoskey, telephone 231-758-3575; they may also be visited at, where you can shop online and view their events

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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