Shop Small 716: What’s Pop-In

Shop Small 716

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Gourmet popcorn shop What’s Pop-In exploded onto Buffalo’s food scene a few years ago, challenging the idea of what popcorn is all about with creative flavors like black truffle, Buffalo wing, and lemonade.

The business has expanded so much that they moved to a new location at 1239 Niagara Street last month- the former Sugar City music venue- from their original location on West Ferry Street.

“It’s massive- we needed it, especially for shipping,” owner Stefan Coker said. “I don’t think people realize the caliber of shipping we do.”

The new space has colorful murals all over the walls.

“We had a couple of local artists come in and they did a great job,” said general manager David Whelan. “We really wanted the vibrant, in-your-face colors, and in this building, we have the opportunity to do that.”

Whelan and Coker met while Coker was head chef at the Larkinville Filling Station and Whelan was working under him.

“He did black truffle popcorn as a joke and put it on tacos,” Whelan recalled.

The pair come up with the inventive new popcorn flavors.

“Honestly, it’s me and Stefan shooting the breeze- we’ll be eating something from a bodega and be like ‘we need to make this into a popcorn’,” Whelan said.

“We have enough flavors left for four years,” Coker laughed.

Some of their newest offerings are apple cobbler, white chocolate raspberry, and pink lemonade.

What’s Pop-In was doing popcorn pairing wine dinners before the COVID-19 pandemic, an event which Coker says they’ll be bringing back soon.

“We’re doing five courses, paired with popcorn,” Coker said.

What’s Pop-in popcorn can now be found in stores and boutiques around WNY, as well as pop-up events and markets. You can follow where they are via their social media pages.

In January, both windows at the West Ferry Street location were smashed in an act of vandalism.

The community rallied behind the shop, donating to a GoFundMe page and buying hundreds of bags of popcorn.

“We got so much love from the community- it really showed us how much people are really digging what we’re about,” Coker said.

Coker grew up on the West Side of Buffalo, where both shops have been located.

“It’s really about repping the West,” Coker said “It’s about showing love and getting the community involved.”

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