Meet The Owners Of The Gourmet Food, Wine, And Coffee Shops At The OC Mart MIX

Offering a new kind of shopping destination, the gourmet food shops and owner-operated retail boutiques are drawing the crowds at The OC Mart Mix in Costa Mesa, CA, a modern market place for gourmet foods, coffee and wine with over 30 retail shops under one roof. It’s Orange County’s answer to the Ferry Building in San Francisco.   

Below is more about the food, wine and coffee shops and their inspired owners, including N’iceCream, We Olive & Wine Bar, Portola Coffee Lab, Savory Spice Shop, The Cheese Shop, Local Fare and the soon-to-be-open, Shuck Oyster Bar. Even though all are independent, the shops often collaborate on dishes and specials.  N’iceCream incorporates Local Fare’s toffee and Portola’s coffee into their gelato and recently, five shops created the Wafflegato, a dessert only offered at special events or times (See below for more on Waffelgato), while We Olive & Wine Bar offers Moo Mondays, with We Olive wine and cheese from The Cheese Shop.

The LA Times and OC Register both just featured The OC Mart Mix, which opened in 2011, with the LA Times calling the center “cool shopping in Costa Mesa.” Southwest Airlines, in its Spirit Magazine, said “aficionados of the offbeat, head back to Costa Mesa to visit The OC Mart MiX” and Sunset Magazine called the center, “the best reason to pull off the 405”.


Christian Toxboe and Laura Neilson, husband and wife duo hailing from Denmark, came to the US in 2008 and have since opened four  N’iceCream shops specializing in freshly-made organic gelato and sorbet. Every morning, they are hard at work making 16 batches from
scratch, while offering over 150 different flavors that they rotate between. Some of the company’s most popular flavors include: Salted Caramel, Raspberry Basil, Lemon Olive Oil, and Stracciatella. N’iceCream gelato is made in their signature style, a bit lighter than what most gelato stores serve. Choosing to add less cream and sugar, the flavors of the gelatos and sorbets are not masked by the fat and sugar content in the product. A N’iceCream gelato or sorbet will always have a clean and crisp taste, and it is their goal is to use as many natural ingredients as they possibly can.  All the gelatos are based on organic milk and they never add any color or artificial sweeteners to their products. The sorbets are dairy free and fat free, and are made with fresh local produce that follows the seasons.  Check out the company website, where you can see what flavors have been made in the different shops, what time they have been made and you can subscribe to your favorite flavor.;


Recently featured in the Orange County Register, Laura Shute, co-owner of two Savory Spice Stop shops, one in Corona del Mar and the other in Coast Mesa, CA at The OC Mart Mix, features 400 herbs and spices and more than 140 unique blends, organic selections, extracts and spice ware at her shop. Laura Shute has literally spent the last 2 years up to her elbows in herbs and spices.  

At Savory Spice Stop, the herbs and spices are hand-blended, ground fresh weekly, free of additives and preservatives and are gluten-free. One of the wonderful things about the shop is spices are available for as little as a 1/2 ounce for a recipe or up to pounds of an herb or spice if that's what is needed.  Customers can smell and taste all of Savory Spice Stop’s spices.  Everyone at Savory is knowledgeable and helpful about the company’s products and with more than 40 different spice collections and gift boxes, that are fully customizable, they have the perfect gift for everyone.  

Knowing the ins-and-outs of the more than 400 spices she carries in her shops, Laura dispenses spices, knowledge and advice on a daily basis. An avid home cook, Laura, with her partner Randy Morton, got into the spice trade in 2010 bringing the shops to Southern California so that people could see what a difference freshly ground spices can make in their meals.  Laura regularly speaks as an expert on spices including; history, lore, uses and health benefits.  Laura lectures at the shop, at private events including St. Jude's Hospital Wellness Center.  Laura is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.


The Cheese Shop offers specialty cheese, accoutrements and more, is one of three shops for owner Dawn Mednick, who also has The Cellar in San Clemente, CA and The Loft Wine Bar in Las Vegas, NV.  The Cheese Shop, which just opened at the end of January, offers a unique selection of domestic cheeses, charcuterie, gourmet accoutrements, home goods, and daily grab-and-go sandwiches.;!/OCCheeseShop;  Twitter: @OCCheeseShop  Find out more about The Cheese Shop from The Daily Pilot.


NEW Local Fare sells delicious and healthy marinades, sauces, pastas, sweets and pantry essentials sourced mostly from suppliers within California.  Additionally, Local Fare offers an eclectic mix of tabletop items, kitchenware and giftware for any occasion. Owner: Sheri Metzler


We Olive & Wine Bar – Owners, Deb and Phil Brooks aren't new to the olive oil business. They opened the We Olive in Belmont Shore in January 2009 and now are happy to have opened one of the first We Olive & Wine Bar at the OC Mart Mix. It  has been a dream of the Brooks family to have a wine bar one day, so were delighted when asked to not only do our olive oil tasting bar at The Mix but also a wine bar. Offering complementary olive oil tasting, wine by the glass and also wine flights, Debby and Phil strive to bring small artisan olive oil producers from California and feature small boutique wines as well. Guests  enjoy complementary olive oil and balsamic with a glass of wine or order one of the delicious tapas plate featuring some of We Olive’s wonderful gourmet foods, as well as a variety of extra virgin olive oils, flavored oils, and vinegars that can be refilled at a discount.  Here is a great video about We Olive & Wine Bar:


Moo Monday: $4 off our three cheese plate (3 cheeses chosen from The Cheese Shop @ OCMartMix, two tapenades, bread and nuts)
·         Tasting Tuesday: $8 for a sampling of one of our cheeses, extra virgin olive oils, wine and bread for dipping that make a tasty pairing
·         We Olive Wednesday: $3 off our wine flights - makes it $8 white flights, $9 mixed flight, and $10 red flight (3 wines at a 2oz pour)
·         Sangria Thursday: $5 glass of fresh sangria (no more $1 tacos, if anyone asks, and we are hoping to replace it with something soon)
·         Live Music Friday: Live Music from 6-9 featuring a rotation of talented local musicians 
·         So Co Saturday: Farmer's Market open from 9-2 with gourmet food trucks, We Olive mimosas $5 a glass from 10-3, Live Music from 5-8 featuring a rotation of talented local musicians
·         Sunday Funday: Happy hour all day 


OPENING SOON - Shuck Oyster Bar - Shuck Oyster Bar from the dynamic foodie duo, Noah Blom and Leonard Chan, is a spot for people to mingle, glasses to clink, oysters to shuck, and mouths to slurp.  Pleasantly proper without pretension, magically modern and comfortably clean. Delicious decadence dealing dastardly flavors of fantastic freshness. The stars of the Shuck show will be seasonal oysters from all over our green and blue sphere, including impossible to find oysters. The supporting cast will be ranging from handpicked clams and mussels, a couple of happy chowders, a flawlessly grilled cheese sandwich that will make you weep from childhood memories, and some crisp and fresh salads to gnaw on. Libations will include delicious local brews, a few bubblies to choose from, and of course, perfectly mixed mimosas.  For those with a sweet tooth, look for Shuck to sling out pure cane sugar sodas. Leonard already runs The Iron Press and Noah is about to open Arc, both restaurants are a stone’s throw from their collaboration on Shuck.


The uber-popular third wave coffee house, Portola Coffee Lab is making its mark on coffee drinkers. Coast Magazine recently called Portola’s following, “Coffee Religion”.  LA Weekly says, “the shop is on its way to becoming one of the best coffee roasters in Southern California. No exaggeration.” And Orange County Register recently said that Portola “approaches the creation of coffee like a science.” 

 Portola Coffee Lab is just that, it is a Lab. It is a third-wave coffee house, cafe, and micro roaster. It is a place where the science of coffee is taken seriously from the coffee crop to the cup. Portola experts visit coffee farms, bring the coffee back to the shop, roast it themselves on the clean-air coffee roaster, and then expertly trained baristas custom craft every single cup right in front of you in a way that truly features what the farmers and Portola’s coffee roastmaster have put into the coffee.

Freshness matters. One of the main things that is unique about Portola is that every cup of brewed coffee is brewed to order. The husband/wife owners, Owners Jeff and Christa Duggan focus on freshness, which is key to enjoying their amazing coffee. The flavor that is unleashed after they roast is intense and complex, designed to be savored within weeks, not months. To best showcase this freshness, Portola is using several unique brewing methods that highlight the inherent flavors of each coffee. Whether it is from the brand new BUNN Trifectas, the Sci-fi-looking Siphon Bar, or the amazing Slayer Esperesso machine, you’ll get an education and experience that is as unique as the beans themselves.

MORE ON WAFFLEGATO, which will be offered next on August 10th at the SOCO Outdoor Cinema event, featuring the movie The Artist, Live Music, Food and more.