Jason Lucas has fed the crunchy caramel corn cravings of Kent for almost a year and is now trying to sell the store.
Lucas is the owner and operator of Metropolis Popcorn at 164 E. Main St. Metropolis has more than 50 flavors of popcorn, including jalapeno, caramel butter cashew and pi¤a colada.
Although he said he loves downtown Kent, Lucas is planning to sell Metropolis to spend more time with his family.
“I’d like to have 500 of these, but right now I would like to spend time with my 5-month-old daughter,” he said. “I’m selling the store because there is too much business, not too little.”
Along with the regular flavors, Lucas experiments with new tastes.
“I try to have something new every week,” he said. “Flavors with caramel, pecans and cinnamon seem to be popular.”
Lucas said some of his most popular flavors have come from customers’ ideas. Fluffernutter, a blend of peanut butter and marshmallow creme, and Anonymous Addiction, a combination of garlic salt and lime flavoring, have a loyal following.
However, some of Lucas’ experiments have not worked out so well.
“I tried making a strawberry-banana flavor, which sounds really good, but it wasn’t,” he said. “It turned out so hard, no one could chew it. I ended up having to give it away.”
Lucas said he always wanted to start his own business, and he was thinking about opening a coffee shop when he became frustrated with the quality of store-bought popcorn.
“I always liked caramel corn, and I was tired of opening up a box of popcorn with broken pieces and only about four nuts,” he said. “I came up with my own recipe, and it came together from there.”
After having a taste-testing party, Lucas opened Metropolis in February 2004.
On an average day, Lucas makes about 20 gallons of popcorn in his industrial-sized popper. Lucas uses only Ohio-grown yellow corn because of its quality.
“It’s the freshest, and it’s the best,” he said.
He mixes the candied flavors in a seven-gallon drum until the temperature reaches 350 degrees.
“After it reaches 350, I let it cool for about 10 or 15 minutes until it’s edible,” he said. “Customers enjoy getting the popcorn while it’s fresh.”
Lucas said he decided to open his business in downtown Kent because he enjoys the affordability and the atmosphere.
“I like downtown Kent because there aren’t many thriving downtowns left in America,” he said. “I want people to realize that downtown Kent is here and a great place to shop.”
The store is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. Popcorn ranges from $3.45 for one quart to $39.95 for eight quarts. Customers can place orders at the store or at www.metropolispopcorn.com.
Contact news correspondent Amanda Garrett at [email protected]