If you wanted to paint a colorful metaphor and say popcorn flows through Jack Pepper’s veins, you wouldn’t be far off. He and partner Chandler Sommerfeldt just opened the Durango Popcorn Depot on the corner of sixth and Fifth Street and Main Avenue in Durango.
Before they moved to Durango last summer, Pepper was part of a family business: the Batavia Popcorn Depot in Batavia, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. In terms of surroundings, the Durango and Batavia locations are eerily similar. Both shacks are in direct proximity of not just a 19th century train station – thus the similar names – but also a winery. (Does wine pair well with popcorn? We digress ...)
While the Durango location is brand new, though, its Batavian forebear is 90 years old.
“I just wanted to carry my experience and popcorn here,” Pepper said. “It was always my dream to move to a mountain town and have a popcorn business.”
What flavors of popcorn do they have, you ask? The three base flavors are plain, cheese, and caramel, and there’s every combination of those flavors. The “Bob,” a plain and caramel mix, is named after Pepper’s popcorn-popping papa.
What we’re most intrigued by are the flavors they don’t have ... yet. On the way are pizza, garlic parmesan, white cheddar, and jalapeño flavors. Jack Pepper seems particularly excited to have a Pepper Jack combo. (For more corny references to Pepper’s name, observe the capsicum on the company’s logo.)
If there was any doubt that the snack hut would fit perfectly into the Durango culture, the owners are very conscious about what pops up in the popcorn. There is no butter and the cheese is a non-dairy soy product. The corn itself comes from high-quality, non-GMO seeds in Nebraska. Everything is made in the kiosk, and outside of the soy, there are no common allergens. A vegan with a nut allergy could go there for a snack.
The Durango Popcorn Depot is open every day from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, go to www.durango-popcorn-depot.com or call (970) 880-4958.Editor’s note: When she’s not popping popcorn, Chandler Sommerfeldt is a sales representative for DGO.Nick Gonzales