|Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Popcorn Monkey owner Deltone Moore and his wife Mickey pose in their Middleburg popcorn shop.|
Walking along East Federal Street in Middleburg, sweet smells of hot, buttery popcorn, warm, melted chocolate and rich, gooey caramel, awaken the kid in all of us.
Popcorn Monkey is a store selling gourmet popcorn with a variety of unorthodox and tasty flavors. It's the brainchild of owner Deltone Moore, who grew up with a love of popcorn.
In addition to selling popcorn, Moore sells vintage, hard-to-find candy like candy cigarettes, Dots and caramels.
A native of Cleveland, his trips with his uncle to watch his favorite baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium always included two bags of fresh, hot popcorn and hopes of shagging a foul ball in the upper deck along the third base line.
Moore said the business got started when his wife Mickey – also a lover of popcorn – allowed him to have a popcorn machine in his man cave at home.
“I got a machine for the basement and started tinkering with different flavors,” Moore said. “We started giving it to people and they kept telling us we should open up a shop. Over time, they kept encouraging us and I decided I would give it a whirl. We started doing some wholesale accounts and people discovered us.”
It took Moore a long time to come up with a good name for the business because he wanted something that would resonate with customers. He acknowledged a lot of community children associate the company logo with Curious George, which keeps the business in their minds.
“I really wanted to develop a brand and that is what we are. We are not a product, but a brand. When people think of Popcorn Monkey, I want them to think of good times, quality, flavor and good things that take them back to when they were kids,” Moore said.
Popcorn Monkey infuses all the popular flavors into popcorn, including Old Bay, sea salt and cracked black pepper, ranch, kettle korn, watermelon, loaded potato and many more.
His ideas for flavors have come directly from customers on Facebook.
“I would have never thought of Old Bay as a flavor, but I kept trying and getting opinions and they said it was great, so really the customers are the drivers,” Moore said.
Moore's biggest seller is a flavor called Disco Monkey, a chocolate chip, graham cracker and marshmallow popcorn.
Another top seller is a flavor Moore calls Hot Monkey Love – a vanilla and hot cinnamon infused peppermint flavor.
With the flavor names, Moore tries to incorporate monkey into as many of them as possible.
“With Hot Monkey Love I was thinking of hot cinnamon, something warm and a warm night hanging out so I came up with Hot Monkey Love,” Moore said. “We try to make it fun."
It is a family-run business with Moore, his wife Mickey, their daughter and his sister all contributing hours at the store.
In November, Moore was preparing for Christmas in Middleburg, the first big day for the business when tragedy struck his personal life.
“My mom played a really strong role and had significant impact on me and I lost her in November. She passed right before Christmas in Middleburg and I had already signed a lease and couldn't back out. It was a tough spot for me and I knew she wouldn't want me to quit,” Moore said. “So while I am still hurting from losing her, she has given me the drive to succeed with this business.”
A major part of the company's business is providing popcorn for various events like weddings, corporate meetings and vineyard tastings.
“What we typically try to do is call and meet with the client about their popcorn bar. They can have us come out and set up the bar ourselves then come clean up or we can do that and have a server stay there for an additional fee,” Moore said.
The shop is open Friday-Sunday. With the Salamander Resort opening soon, Moore is looking to possibly expand the shop's hours to include Thursdays.
“Looking at the resort coming in, that is going to open a lot of different doors for us and for people coming into Middleburg looking for something to do,” Moore said. “I think we have a very unique niche right now so we are definitely looking to expand more, but I don't think we can really go anymore than that with online orders coming in, Christmas coming up and wine tastings we are going to.
“Right now I am pleased. I am very thankful and I think my mom would be proud if she were here,” Moore said.
|Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Popcorn Monkey owner Deltone Moore and his wife Mickey have developed different flavors of popcorn for their customers.|
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