There's a new "pop" in Petworth, and it's delicious. Stella*s Popcorn (4414 Georgia Avenue NW) started out as a food truck offering a variety of flavored popcorn to hungry DC office workers, from pumpkin spice white French chocolate to the ever-popular clarified butter and sea salt. Sales have been strong for the unique food truck, and when an opportunity arose to take a retail space on Georgia, owner Kristina Kern jumped at it.
I met with Kristina and Jerran Hinnant, the sales and operations director, at the Georgia Avenue popcorn store to learn more about the many ways corn kernels can be popped and enjoyed, and to learn why they're doing it.
"I love popcorn," Kristina said. "There's the crunch, of course, and that you can add lots of flavors to it. It can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- like having our delicious chocolate with a morning coffee, or jalapeño-flavored popcorn with lunch!"
With a background in high-end catering, Kristina has worked at EDS and Hyatt, and was a sales executive for Design Cuisine for 9 years. "I always wanted to own my own small business," she said. "In college, I wanted to open a coffee shop, and later a salad restaurant, but never did it. I knew I was put on Earth to own a small business."
Kristina said she recognized there wasn't a popcorn presence in DC, so she made the idea happen. "I trusted my gut, feeling that people would dig it. So I said to myself, I'm just gonna jump on it."
Four and a half years ago, she started the Stella Popcorn truck (named after her daughter), selling different flavors of popcorn to hungry people downtown, as well as at catered events. They shared a group kitchen at the Georgia Avenue location with six other chefs, and juggled the space to be able to get the day's cooking done. When the lease became available last year, Kristina took it over with the idea of opening a retail store and a dedicated place to cook their now popular popcorn.
"I love and believe in Petworth," Kristina said. "That's why I wanted this space, and I think the block needed a big shiny object on it. I want the store to change and offer new flavors based on what the community wants."
The store offers Stella Popcorn the opportunity to experiment with new flavor combinations, something the smaller truck limited their ability to do. The store will offer 7-12 different flavors, listed on the board upon the wall (including vegan options), with 2-4 featured flavors of the week.
Stop by and you'll find tasty combinations like Salty Caramel with Dark French Chocolate Drizzle, and Lemon Pepper and Cracked Black Pepper popcorn (has a nice lemon smell and a spicy bite at the end). The Shaved Cinnamon, Salty Caramel popcorn is delicious. If you like spicy that builds as you eat, then try the Charred Jalapeño with Lime Fresco and Sea Salt.
You'll also find coffee, tea, water and cider available, and Kristina said they have plans on offering more. The store will sell popcorn during the day from the Georgia Avenue location, while the foodtruck will continue to offer popcorn around DC.
Find Stella*s Popcorn at:
4414 Georgia Avenue NW