If an alien from say, the planet Krypton, plopped down into It’s Poppin! Cake Café in Atlanta, the new Buckhead popcorn and dessert eatery, what should he make of it? "I would say it’s a gourmet snack shop where you can get sweet, salty, savory gluten-free anything you want to snack on," explains enthusiastic owner Ardra Tippett.
It's Poppin! is the sequel to Tippett’s east Atlanta dessert shop Cake Café. The Man of Steel and earthling visitors would quickly discover that popcorn is the star of the shop. There are more than 300 flavors of it, including liquor-flavored ones.
Customers can munch on gobs of popcorn at their leisure in a white, bright, airy environment with tables, chairs and Wi-Fi. That’s precisely what Tippett, a veteran sales executive and transplant from St. Louis, wants them to do. But wait, there’s more! Tippett shares what else snack lovers can find and do at It’s Poppin and why she wants them to stay as long as they like.
The Daily Meal: There is a lot of variety of food here. What inspired you to make popcorn the centerpiece but include other choices?
Ardra Tippett: I’m a "sweetaholic." I got what I like. I like popcorn. I like cobblers and cakes, pies, brownies, cookies, candy, ice cream. And I like the best of it. I wanted the best of all of those. I didn’t just want regular candy. I didn’t want Hershey bars. I wanted Godiva bars. And then as a business person when you look into a market and you decide what you want to do, you want to do something that hasn’t been done.
You want to offer people something that isn’t being offered in a way that they aren’t getting it. They are getting all these things individually, but to me it’s a collective. I don’t understand a popcorn-only [or a] cupcake-only shop. So what if you like cupcakes but he likes chips? And what if you get four girls together? You’re not going to get four girls who like the same things.
I just want this to be a place where you can come with your bottle of wine chocolates (and) flowers. Popcorn pairs with a bottle of wine — it’s awesome!
TDM: Who would have thought popcorn pairs with wine?
AT: Garlic and herb popcorn with a bottle of wine — reisling — that’s the bomb, then get you some truffles on the side.
Everything is about moderation. So if you really can’t eat gluten, I’ve got something for you. If vegan is really, really your thing, I’ve got something for you. But if you’re health-conscious and weight-conscious, just get one. We sell everything individually. You don’t have to get a dozen of truffles. Get one. Get some nuts, get some energy mix. Get sugar-free gummy bears. But most of all enjoy our popcorn bar!
TDM: Why didn’t you go the popcorn stand route?
AT: Ambience is important to me. Maybe it’s me and my old age, running through life and not smelling the roses, or smelling the coffee — sometimes you should be able to sit down and take a moment and enjoy it. We allow you to close your eyes in here. When you eat the caramel cake, you can close your eyes. It’s permitted! Just really enjoy the love that was put into the product that you are purchasing. And then everything shouldn’t be so rushed. If you want to ask (the origin of the food) we have chocolates here from Belgium and France, made in the United States, made locally. If you want to get a little education about it, if you want to ask a question — we are not in that big a hurry that we can’t answer your question.
TDM: It’s Poppin! is your second location but there are plans for a third spot — Cake Café Too?
AT: It’s going to be a movie café because everything is centered around popcorn and cakes. Popcorn and a movie; cake and a movie. It’s going to be a sports bar-type atmosphere. But instead of sports we’re going to show movies on the screen. It will be old movies: anything on DVD or VHS. We’ll do movie trivia. We’ll do acting classes. We’ll invite directors and producers and the Tyler Perrys and Spike Lees and John Singletons to come in and talk and premiere their movies, premiere their videos. Everyone in Atlanta has a reality show so we want to premiere them there.
It will probably be a really cool place to do poetry. So is this one. You can reserve this space for baby showers, book club meetings and things like that.
TDM: All of your eateries are not just places to eat?
AT: No, no it’s for the community. I totally believe in tithing and giving back. I have a nonprofit organization called the Taste Love Foundation. We give cakes to kids [ages] 1 to 18 whose parents are incarcerated, deceased, or in shelters. Because I believe that everyone should have a birthday party no matter what they are going through. That’s the least that I can do.
Its Poppin! is located at 3165 Peachtree Rd. in Atlanta. It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment only from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.