I was saddened this week to learn about the death of Jeff Conarko, the owner of Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars, an olive oil shop with three Austin-area locations.

Tabatha and Jeff Conarko founded Con’ Olio in 2010. Photo by Jarrad Henderson for the Austin American Statesman.

I met Jeff back in 2010 when he was opening the first Con’ Olio up in the Arboretum, and as we talked about choosing better olive oils and making better salad dressings,  that’s when I first saw his passion for olive oils. I’d never seen someone get so excited talking about a single category of ingredients. He loved talking about the industry, the countries of origins, the politics behind the import business, the flavors locked up in those little bottles.

He was already a cancer survivor at that point, even with young children running around the shop. At the time, I wasn’t sure if Austin customers would be willing to spend the money on such high-quality oil, but they did, so much so that he was able to open two other locations, one in Bee Cave and another downtown.

A memorial service will take place Friday, April 1, 2016, at 12:30 p.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, and will be followed by a celebration of Jeff’s life with friends and family at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars, 10000 Research Blvd., suite 130, Austin, Texas 78759. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Jeff’s name to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Here is a link to his full obituary.