A Well-Oiled Machine

Martha and Rich Bates

NB|AZ® supports world-class shop in the heart of Cave Creek

Drive along the main drag of Cave Creek and you’ll find an eclectic collection of shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants. There’s the antique store, the custom cowboy hat shop, the local greasy spoon.

But off Cave Creek Road, tucked in a small plaza next to a print shop and cigar store, may be one of Cave Creek’s best-kept secrets. Owned by Rich and Martha Bates, the Cave Creek Olive Oil Company brings some of the finest premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars to the heart of Arizona.

One step through the door and customers are immediately greeted by rows and rows of stainless steel containers filled with olive oils, from Tuscan herb to cayenne chili pepper to Persian lime. And because nothing pairs better with olive oil than balsamic vinegar, the shop offers a wide variety of dark, white and specialty vinegars.

“It can be a little overwhelming, especially for first-time customers,” says Rich. “Our job is to educate people and let them know it’s more than just for salad dressing. Oil and vinegar make for great marinades and rubs. It’s a great, healthy way to flavor food.”

No strangers to the food scene, the Bates’ have each been in the restaurant industry for 30 years. They met while working together at a local resort, then operated a number of restaurants in Prescott. Three years ago, they decided to move to Cave Creek and open their shop, which has grown, thrived and become a staple in the community.

“We chose to open the store in Cave Creek because, coming from Prescott, we’re used to that small-town atmosphere,” Martha says. “We wanted to keep it small. We’re not lost in the big picture here.”

Despite that small-town feel, the shop gets an influx of customers, from locals to tourists often surprised to find a world-class selection of premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars in this most western of towns.

“Our product comes from all over the world,” says Martha. “Olive oils are produced between the southern and northern hemispheres. The northern hemisphere crushes in November and December, while the southern hemisphere crushes in May. Right now, we have a lot of oils from Portugal, Spain and California.”

All their balsamic vinegars come from Modena, Italy, Rich adds, where the Trebbiano grape is grown. “It’s an ultra-premium balsamic.”

In addition to the oils and vinegars, the Bates’ carry an assortment of other products, many of which are made locally by purveyors such as Eagle Eye Honey (Aguila), DeCio Pasta (Tempe), Sassy Salsa (Chandler) and Sting ‘n Linger Salsa (Tempe).

“It’s certainly a complement to what we sell,” says Rich. “We get a lot of people who come in looking to take home a little piece of Arizona.”

While Cave Creek Olive Oil Company is still experiencing double-digit growth, the Bates know the key to continued success is being active in the community. In addition to donating products to local fundraising events, they work with the local food bank and library.

“Cave Creek has a very collaborative business community,” says Rich. “It’s a unique environment because all the businesses support each other. In fact, we’ve found some of our biggest support from National Bank of Arizona®.”

The Bates’ had banked with NB|AZ® in Prescott, and decided to continue the relationship when they moved to Cave Creek. Since then, the bank has been their biggest cheerleader, showcasing them as “business of the month” during the holidays and displaying their products at the local branch.

“They’ve got the same business philosophy we do,” says Martha. “They don’t just make a customer, they make a friend.”