Monday, October 20, 2014

Olson's Scandinavian Deli & Gift Shop

Olson's is back in a big way on Pico Boulevard!  The original Olson's has been in this location since 1948.  I remember coming here in the mid-1980s for Scandinavian specialties like anchovy paste and lingon-berry jam.  The deli counter was always overloaded with delicious cured meats, Danish ham and pickled herring.  We often picked up sandwiches to go from Mr. Ohlsson.  

Olson's did a huge business just before Christmas.  The neighborhood has changed radically since 1948 when the original Mr. Olson opened the shop.  Scandinavians from across L.A. County made the trek back to Mid-City to buy specialties for the holidays.  I asked Mr. Ohlsson (the second owner of the shop, not related to the original) once about the changes in the neighborhood.  He said that when the area was developed, during the late 1920s and early 1930s there were enclaves of Germans, Scandinavians, Irish and English ex-patriots.  

Photo courtesy of Olson's

Photo courtesy of Olson's

Photo courtesy of Olson's

This is evidenced by a few restaurants still here, Tom Bergin's and Molly Malone's.  I also remembered that in 1926 Charles Bukowski's parents moved from Germany, to Longwood Avenue, near L.A. High School.  I love hearing stories about the migration of various groups around old L.A.

Scandinavian gifts for sale

Björn Borg is a favorite here

Larry and I hadn't been back to Olson's since Bert Ohlsson retired in 2013.  The shop was closed during remodeling.  Swedish people bought the place, retained the name and re-opened the market, gift shop and a little restaurant.  We had lunch there on Saturday.  The sandwich menu is extensive.  I wanted to re-live my youth and have the Skagen sandwich which I fondly remember from The Konditori Restaurant in Beverly Hills.  At Olson's the Skagen is a delicious sandwich with baby shrimp in a sour cream dill sauce, piled into a soft egg bread roll, garnished with lettuce, served with a side of pickled, thinly sliced cucumbers.  Yummmmm!  This is EXACTLY how I remembered the Konditori sandwich. 

Half Skagen sandwich

Italian and Norwegian Soda

One side of Olson's contains grocery, bakery and deli items.  This is where you order your meal.  The other side of the shop has a huge Scandinavian candy section, along with tables and chairs.  There is a big, refrigerated case with huge wheels of cheese available. 
Bulk Candy Section

Huge Wheel O' Cheese (photo courtesy of Olson's)

Olson's also serves breakfast.  I cannot wait to try the Swedish pancakes.

Olson's in 2013 (pre-remodel), photo courtesy of Mrs. Cuddlebug

Olson's Scandinavian Deli
5660 West Pico Boulevard
(323) 938-0742

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