Twist of Fate

Lori Berndt didn’t expect to ever sell olive oil. In fact, she didn’t even like olive oil for many years — the result of a negative childhood experience with oil that had sat for too long in the back of a cupboard. But as an adult, on a trip to the East Coast, she happened upon an olive oil and vinegar tasting bar. And the rest, as they say, is history. Now she co-owns The Olive Twist, a retail shop and tasting bar specializing in olive oils and vinaigrettes, with her husband, Terry.

“The whole concept is to try before you buy,” Berndt said. “Unlike grocery store varieties, you get to come in, you get to taste exactly what you’re going home with.”

And customers have plenty of options to choose from — the store is filled with everything from balsamic vinegars to cold pressed olive oils to specialty oils, like roasted walnut and blood orange. The store also carries a variety of products that use Olive Twist oil, like brownie mixes.


The Olive Twist has two locations — one in Fort Wayne (Covington Plaza), and one in Auburn — and has been around almost exactly five years, since October of 2010. The company has built its success on a couple of core values:

“Quality and education,” Berndt said.

Berndt said the oil goes through a series of quality control measures before entering the country. The Berndts spent time talking with different importers before settling on the one they use. “We have an importer that is very particular…with certain criteria and standards,” she explained. “We feel that we have the best quality out there.”

The company works to educate the community on the health benefits of olive oil, as well as the many ways to utilize it. This includes cooking classes, which meet twice a month from January to October, with varying menus. Private lessons are also available.


The store also maintains a significant online presence, supplying customers across the region. But Fort Wayne is the core of their business. Because of this, the Berndts are investors in Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

“To be a Greater Fort Wayne [Inc.] investor is to have a community working together with us and helping to direct us as small business owners. And also to connect us with other business owners to understand some of the same trials…and guide us in the right direction.”

Berndt described Greater Fort Wayne Inc. as a “wonderful wealth of information” for the business owner.

“Whether you’re having some issues or maybe you just need to find out more information about something…if they don’t know the answer they help direct you to people that do,” she added. “And that’s something awesome to have as a resource.”



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