Genalle and Rob Day are veterans of the retail popcorn industry. Yes, there is one. And now it's here.
The Days opened Pittsburgh Popcorn in the Strip District a little more than a month ago and already they have a following.
The peanut-butter kettle corn has made quite an impression on Strip shoppers who've found the couple's little shop around the corner from Penn Avenue on 21st Street. Pittsburgh Popcorn is the city's first freshly made, gourmet-popcorn venture. It's an idea the pair have nurtured since they met a few years ago while working at a popcorn chain in New York's Times Square.
Rob, a native of Queens, New York, and Genalle, a Pittsburgher, reckoned it was time to break from the big-box company and pop out on their own. So, they moved to the Cork Factory in the Strip and, now, unlike in New York, have a painless commute.
"We talked about where we wanted to go and we really liked the idea of opening a shop in Pittsburgh," says Genalle. "We live and work in the Strip and it's been great."
Pittsburgh Popcorn is a sweet shop – cozy and urban. IKEA tables and chairs, track lighting and exposed brick walls give it a young, fresh feel, unlike most popcorn shops of yore. A handlebar-mustached man wearing a striped shirt, visor and knickers will not greet you at the door singing "Sweet Adeline." There is no player piano.
Only the soft syncopated sounds of fresh kernels dancing about.
But what, exactly, is gourmet popcorn? It's all in the mix, sprinkle or drizzle added to the popped corn. It might be Wisconsin cheddar, caramel, chocolate, crumbled cookies, peanut butter, nuts or spices.
Genalle credits Rob as the popcorn alchemist.
"Rob comes up with all sorts of fun flavors," laughs Genalle. "He mixed a variety of Cajun spices together for our flavor of the week."
Prices range from $2.75 for a small bag of lightly salted to $9.95 for a large bag of chunky chocolate caramel. Pittsburgh Popcorn is also available in gift tins and shipping is available.
The Days are branching out to wholesale, and soon you may see Pittsburgh Popcorn peek out of gift baskets around the city. Also on the drawing board for the shop: smoothies and freshly squeezed lemonade.
The Big Apple's loss is the Steel City's teeth-picking, gooey-fingered, yummy gain.
209 21st St.