BRONZEVILLE — A new popcorn shop has opened in Bronzeville offering unique flavors such as Jamaican jerk and even deep dish pizza.
Popacorn Popcorn, 4645 S. King Dr., has joined the growing business district. It’s next door to Renaissance Bronzeville, a bar and lounge, and across the street from Peach’s Restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch. The grand opening will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. There will be tastings, music and networking.
Video by Andrea V. Watson
Micah Smothers, a Bronzeville resident, launched Popacorn Popcorn in 2009. He sold his specialty flavored popcorn online and out of his gourmet popcorn food truck. To assist with branding, he would also sell his popcorn in some local restaurants and cafes.
Always an entrepreneur, Smothers said that after his former clothing line ended, he began brainstorming on other potential business endeavors.
Micah Smothers sold his popcorn out of his food truck before opening a location. [Photo/Andrea V. Watson]
“I always thought about people’s necessities, so clothing, food, shelter, water,” he said. “I said, ‘OK, let’s try food. I wanted to have something that was simple to make and didn’t require a lot of overhead [cost] and popcorn was that thing.”
“I saw that Chicago was a popcorn city and I wanted to tap into that market because I knew there weren’t a lot of people in it,” Smothers said.
He began experimenting with flavors in his kitchen and hosting taste testing events to learn which flavors more people preferred.
Today, there are nine flavors, with two new ones— Jamaican Jerk and Deep Dish— on the way, he said.
The store will be his first.
“I’m excited,” he said, adding that Bronzeville was the right location.
The community’s history of once being a major business hub for black businesses in the 1920s through 1950s motivated Smothers to add to it.
“I wanted to keep that going,” he said. “When the opportunity came it was a perfect match.”
He has plans to do more than just sell popcorn. The space holds a 20-seat theater where he plans to host movie nights for the community.
“I want to make this a safe haven, somewhere where people can come and relax, take a break and watch a movie,” he said.
The business will host movie nights in the 20-seat theater. [Photo/Andrea V. Watson]
Photo by Andrea V. Watson
The space can also be rented out for private events.
He’s even launching an entrepreneurship training program for young people. He wants to teach them how to start a business. He’ll recruit from the local schools. The goal is to have a group of 20 to participate in a session twice a week.
Popacorn Popcorn is open Monday—Sunday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Follow them on Facebook.