A gorgeous, red-lipsticked redhead perched on the teal velvet pillow cushioning a gleaming, gold bar stool sips her sangria slushie and tells popcorn stories at Broad Ripple’s new Just Pop In!
“My grandfather used to make a huge bowl every Friday night,” she says, widening her arms bear-hug-style to illustrate just how big a bowl. “I never got tired of it,” she adds, popping another kernel of spicy cheddar popcorn in to her mouth.
The woman seems too cool, too current to still care about popcorn, but Just Pop In! is popcorn scene 2018, a stylish bar far from the “good old hunk of butter and bacon fat” popcorn that owners Mandy Selke and Carly Swift grew up eating.
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After months of construction delays, the twin sisters, known as much for their on-point style as they are for gourmet popcorn, have debuted a 6302 Guilford Ave. place that looks more Elle Décor than movie night at home in corn country Indiana.
“This is the veranda,” Swift says, laughing, as her bohemian dress billows against snug rattan chairs.
Ceiling fans whisper over ferns and ivy on the wrap-around patio below. A pergola shelters tables for two by the fireplace. Nearly everyone has a fancy glass in hand. Cucumber slices float on the jalapeno-spiked fino sherry “martini” in a majestic coup. Champagne ranges from a $9 glass of prosecco to a $94 bottle of Michel Gonet Blanc de Blancs.
Inside what resembles a seaside cottage, lovelies like that redhead line the bar trying to decide between the café menu’s saucission with apple thyme jam or creamy tomato basil soup garnished, of course, with cheese popcorn. Order a selection of sharables and they’ll arrive stacked on a gilded stand. Floral-print chairs color the dining room. A trio of beaded chandeliers cast soft light on craft beer and popcorn flights.
Swanky as Just Pop In! appears, it is as cheerful and unpretentious as Selke and Swift, whose company slogan is “Celebrate happiness.”
Although the tiny popcorn shop the two operated since 2003 on Cornell Avenue, just off the Broad Ripple strip, has closed, this new location hosts a similar retail counter. A popper produces buttered popcorn and bags of flavored popcorn are for sale.
Family photos and precious mementos, like the sketch a Just Pop In! fan drew of Selke and Swift, real popcorn glued to their skirts. fill shelves in the cozy sofa lounge upstairs. The floor of the late 1800s home that once occupied the property panels the bar.
“Everything has a real purpose,” Selke says.
Family plays huge here, especially Selke and Swift’s late grandfather. The production he made out of popping corn in a pan on the stove just about every night when the sisters were kids is what inspired the duo to launch Just Pop In!.
He sits on a beach with Selke and Swift’s mom (who helped build the new shop) and aunt, then children themselves, in a black-and-white photo composing the main dining room’s wall mural. Neon lights flashing yellow, pink and blue outline a ferris wheel over their heads. A yellow butterfly represents an uncle who has passed away.
When customers walk out the door, the tile floor reads “Glad you got to see me,” Grandpa’s standard line for saying so long.
That popcorn he made Selke and Swift so long ago was nothing like the ginger curry or white chocolate peanut butter popcorn Just Pop In! sells today. “It was just the good old-fashioned salt and pepper,” Selke says, telling her own popcorn story. “But it was him.”
“Yeah,” Swift replies. “It was him.”
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