NORMAL — Uptown Normal's newest business has a lot in common with two previous businesses — and that's not a coincidence.
"We all still remember Abe's Caramelcorn (Shoppe), which used to be down here," said Sarah McManus, co-owner of The Garlic Press and its new sister business, The Garlic Press Popcorn and Sweet Shop, at 108 W. North St. "This is kind of like Willy Wonka's (chocolate factory) crossed with Abe's."
The popcorn and sweet shop opened Saturday as a successor to Abe's and to the Garlic Press Cafe, which closed in September in the same space because the owners — McManus, Pam Locsin and McManus' mother, Dotti Bushnell — "don't have enough energy and personnel somehow to try and manage it all," Bushnell said last fall.
"This should be a little easier than the cafe," said McManus. "We've been cross-training everybody on staff to work the popcorn side and retail side."
You have free articles remaining.
The combined business has about 20 employees, including two of the 15 who lost positions when the cafe closed.
McManus said the shop is offering 40 varieties of popcorn, including caramel, dill pickle and buffalo wing, and a dozen varieties of fudge made on site, including peanut butter and chocolate, maple walnut and pecan praline.
"When you think about the things that trigger you, it's the smell pf bacon cooking, fresh coffee ... we feel popcorn is one of them," said McManus. "So many people respond to that."
The shop is uptown's first popcorn store since It's Poppin' closed in March 2016 at 120 E. Beaufort St. Town officials said then that owners Sylvester Davis and Christoper Gratkins "couldn't make it go."
The popcorn and sweet shop also sells coffee by the cup, artisan chocolate that was sold at The Garlic Press' retail store and Jelly Belly jelly beans.
Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh