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Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Island Popper

Restaurant Insider

December 10, 2023

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: CONSILLIO PHOTOGRAPHY

Holiday cups (starting at $3.25) make great presents.

What makes Island Popper’s popcorn so addicting? It’s the labor of love and homemade flavors curated by owner Andrea Tournis-Vagenas. Every batch is handcrafted and made to order with non-GMO corn kernels in 100% coconut oil.

I finally had a chance to catch up with this busy gal to find out what’s happening at her Kalihi brick-andmortar this holiday season and what’s in store for her fifth anniversary next summer.

Big Island Mix, Maui Mix and Tsunami Mix (contact for price)

AL: Tell me about your holiday items.

ATV: We are actually throwing it back to my food truck days this year. Our first holiday flavor was Butter Pecan Caramel ($3.75 per cup). We in-house roast the pecans in lots of butter, add our classic scratch-made caramel, then we coat the non-GMO kernels with pecans and caramel. It’s a labor of love, as it’s not a simple flavor, but it’s worth it.

Big Island Mix, Maui Mix and Tsunami Mix (contact for price)

We have our holiday cups on special for Christmas, so if you’re looking for something small for a lot of people, you want to go with the cups rather than the favor bags.

AL: How much popcorn do you usually have in the store?

ATV: We do stock up. We really stock up for walk-in shop days (we’re closed on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays for December). Customers should be able to get what they want, but they should preorder to be safe.

We do have grab-and-go bags. This is the only time of year we have grab-and-go bags. They hold about eight cups of popcorn.

AL: When should customers place orders to get it in time for Christmas?

ATV: For mainland orders, you want to get your order in by Dec. 15. For neighbor islands, you would want to order at least by Dec. 20 because our last day open is Dec. 23. In December, we open at 10 a.m. until we sell out.

AL: What are the price points of the various sizes?

ATV: For each size, we have a variety. The cups are on special and it’s a great deal that starts at $3.25. Small starts at $7, medium starts at $9, large starts at $11 and extra-large starts at $20. If you add caramel, cheddar, butter or furikake, it goes up from there.

Go to our website islandpopper.com and you’ll see two buttons. It’s going to say ship it or order for pickup. It’s so easy and will take you where you need to go and show all the different prices.

AL: What comments do you hear from customers?

ATV: I think it’s all positive. We have a lot of great reviews, a lot of positive people, a lot of people who appreciate what we put into everything, and we’re huge on customer service. They’re our family.

I know you personally keep asking me about doing a really spicy popcorn other than the Sriracha cheese.

I’m from Chicago originally and grew up eating Garrett’s Popcorn. Once you’ve had it, you just can’t eat anything else. Nothing is as rich; nothing is as flavorful. I did have a customer that went to Chicago and tried Garrett’s, and they told me ours was better because you can taste that it’s homemade.

AL: What are some flavors that you’re working on for your five-year anniversary? Maybe a kimchi popcorn?

ATV: We are going to do a Crispy Teriyaki. It’s a little crunchy on the outside, like a sweet crisp, but still teriyaki, so a little salty.

If someone can give me an idea of the ingredients to make a good kimchi, we can definitely look into that.

We are also working on an ume shiso flavor possibly in time for Girls’ Day!

You can also send us an email at info@islandpopper.com with your ideas.

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