Little General Food Shop opened in 2014, creating a destination in a tiny space on Fifth Avenue in downtown Olympia.
Two years later the business has caught on with customers, so much so that it’s about to expand to a much larger site, just west of where it is today. The new home is at Fifth Avenue and Capitol Way, the former site of a restaurant called Acqua Via.
“It’s one of the best corners in town,” said owner Kim Murillo, 41, about her new location. A specific opening date hasn’t been determined just yet but she expects to open there in July.
“The space had a good feeling,” Murillo said, adding that it’s also near a recently completed apartment building — part of a growing trend of more people wanting to live downtown. She hopes to capture some of that business.
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Murillo grew up in British Columbia, moved to east Texas and then relocated to Olympia in 2005, partly to be closer to a sister in Vancouver, British Columbia, who was having a baby at the time. Murillo’s husband, a nurse, also transferred his skills to Capital Medical Center.
Murillo worked as a civil engineer for a dozen years, but she also was impressed with what she called Olympia’s progressive food scene: the farmers market, a community emphasizing locally sourced food and the abundance of farms in the area — all of which didn’t exist in east Texas, she said. Murillo, too, has some exposure to running a business because her grandparents used to run a general store.
Being an engineer didn’t hurt either because project management, budgeting skills and training have their place in the business world, she said.
So the doors opened during Arts Walk 2014, setting out to focus on specialty, artisan type foods in “nice pretty jars on the shelves.” Some of that still exists, but she quickly realized there was demand for quick, healthful lunch items. Sandwiches made by Nineveh Assyria, known for its food truck in town, are popular. There’s also healthful snack items, chocolate, a range of beverages — cold brew coffee, kombucha (fermented tea), spring water, beer, wine, root beer — cheese, salads, meats and eggs.
She plans to incorporate more vegetable offerings into her new store, plus do more in-house because it has a kitchen. Seating will increase to 24.
“As downtown gets to feel more like a neighborhood and continues to grow, they will need food,” Murillo said.
Little General Food Shop
Owner: Kim Murillo
Location: 313 Fifth Ave. SE Olympia.
Future location: Business expects to open in July at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Capitol Way, downtown Olympia.
Years in business: Little General opened in 2014.
Employees: Four, including Murillo
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends.
Future hours: Tentatively set for 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Did you know? Before Murillo became an entrepreneur, she worked as a civil engineer for a dozen years.