Michael Graham does business a little differently. With a background in international relations, he moved to Colorado from the East Coast in 2018 for an opportunity in public consulting for the City of Denver. To better understand issues facing small businesses, he decided to take over an existing coffee shop in the area. He added a bar, infused a mission of care into the company culture and continued on with the rest of his work. After a few years, this small side project became his primary focus.
“Building off the success of my first coffee shop, I opened one more in Denver and another in Avanti in downtown Boulder. Lost City as a brand was born,” said Michael. “After becoming immersed in Boulder over the last year and a half, I realized that the city was missing a tasting room for olive oils. I’ve always had a love for gourmet products, and I’ve traveled the world and sampled oils and vinegars from Italy, France, Spain and more. I knew there was an opportunity to create an experiential space in Boulder for sampling both local and imported speciality products. In the fall of 2022, Boulder Olive Oil Company opened its doors.”
Like his other Lost City spaces, Boulder Olive Oil Company is tied to a mission of supporting nonprofit work. “I want to use business to foster good in really concrete ways. All Lost City operations donate a large portion of their profits to advancing food security and assisting refugees,” said Micheal.
A recent example of this work is Lost City’s “Palaces for People” initiative, which provides housing in Poland for Ukrainian refugees. In a recent article with the Colorado Sun, Michael elaborates on his personal dedication to using his Lost City businesses to better the lives of others. Not only does he help pay rent for Ukrainian refugees to live safely in Poland during the war, but he has contributed to international development efforts in Afghanistan and human rights projects in the U.S., Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Rwanda. In addition to efforts abroad, he helped spearhead the Denver Metro Emergency Food Network which delivered meals to families impacted by food insecurity at the start of the pandemic.
“I try to connect everything I do to a larger purpose,” said Michael. “The goal of Boulder Olive Oil Company is to create a personal and focused tasting experience that did not previously exist in the area. We carry over 20 different olive oils and balsamic vinegars from California to Australia. The flavor profiles run from traditional to unique mixes like fig and jalapeno.” Along with oils and vinegars, the gourmet market also offers local honey from hives on the Front Range.
When deciding where to set up shop, downtown Boulder was the first choice for Michael. “The downtown area has a really interesting mix of locals that love supporting small businesses and tourists seeking experiences. Appealing to both types of customers is such a unique challenge, and it’s one that makes having a business in Boulder so exciting.”
To support the success of this business, stop by and sample some of the unique olive oils for yourself. And if you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift, consider baskets filled with gourmet goods and local honey. “This shop is a huge effort to keep in-person, experiential retail at the forefront coming out of the pandemic. We hope to see the community show up for this amazing space that works to support worthy causes.” Find the store at 2014 Broadway and experience the tasting room for yourself!
Boulder Olive Oil Company
The downtown area has a really interesting mix of locals that love supporting small businesses and tourists seeking experiences.