After more than a decade of popping and selling popcorn in the Washington, D.C., area, Capitol Kettle Corn is opening a storefront in College Park.
JC Clark started Capitol Kettle Corn with his wife Edwina, who goes by Ee, in 2010 and said he plans for the College Park location to become the business’ flagship location. The store will be in the Hollywood Shopping Center, the same plaza that houses MOM’s Organic Market and Proteus Bicycles.
Clark said he hopes the store will open in July or August, but the opening depends on how long it takes to get permits.
In addition to Capitol Kettle Corn’s signature popcorn flavors — many with Washington, D.C.-inspired names such as ‘Kamala’ Caramel and ‘Chesapeake’ Old Bay — the store will sell lemonade, ice cream and mini donuts, Clark said.
“When I come up with a new flavor, okay, [I think] what name can I use, or vice versa — what’s happening in the news? What’s happening in government? And that’s where I get my names from,” Clark said.
Capitol Kettle Corn has had a factory in College Park for the last four years, Clark said, which will be moving into the new location when the storefront opens.
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The products will all be made on-site in the College Park location. The kettle corn is made using local popcorn from the Chesapeake Bay watershed and many spice mixes and flavored ingredients from local vendors, according to Clark.
Even though many small businesses closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark said it felt like a time when his company could grow.
“One thing I realized, personally, is that people still eat and we snack. We need comfort,” Clark said. “I can provide it 365 days a year, year round.”
Gregory Feldman has been buying from Capitol Kettle Corn for about five years, first discovering the popcorn at a farmers market in Washington, D.C. When Feldman and his wife got married a couple years ago, they gave bags of the popcorn to their guests as welcome gifts, he said.
“It’s at a good price point and it’s just tasty,” Feldman said. “It’s a very shareable thing.”
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The support from loyal customers has “amazed” Clark, he said.
Tyler Baylor, who is a first year technology entrepreneurship graduate student and football player at this university, worked with Capitol Kettle Corn through a summer internship. Baylor did marketing for the company in the region and thinks the business will be a “big hit” in College Park.
“It’s kind of like the late night type of things, like late night treats,” Baylor said. “I think it’s a good market right here in College Park to have that.”