Following Louisiana’s natural and environmental disasters within the last couple of decades, it truly takes guts and determination to be a small business owner in the Bayou State. Richard and Lesley Capdebosq, owners of the five Popcorn Bistro locations in the Southern Louisiana area, know this better than most. After losing their own businesses within the wake of these disasters, they knew they needed to come up with something fresh for their local area: gourmet popcorn.
Usually slathered with melted butter, popcorn has long been a popular American snack found in movie theater concession stands and grocery stores in the form of instant microwaveable packages. But with the right ingredients, this treat can be a healthy one.
Popcorn Bistro specializes in providing 153 flavors of popcorn, made fresh daily in their own kitchens with only the most premium and natural ingredients. They feature intriguing, yet absolutely delectable flavors like Loaded Baked Potato, Zesty Buffalo Wings and Oreo Cheesecake. And as a business with strong ties to their community, they have even designed flavors, such as Beignet, King Cake, Boiled Crawfish and Mardi Gras Mambo to honor the food and traditions that make their illustrious state so special.
We had the opportunity to chat with the Popcorn Bistro team about their journey to success, specific marketing tactics that were key to building their local presence and some tasty creations they’re currently working on (a sneak-peek, if you will). Continue reading for the full Q&A!
Q: How did you get into the gourmet popcorn business?
A: After losing one business in Hurricane Katrina and having to close another after the BP oil spill, we had to start something new. We have always been small business owners, and we felt confident that we could open a business that was exciting and new to our area. Popcorn seemed to fill all of those expectations.
Q: What makes your popcorn better than the rest out there?
A: Popcorn Bistro is a small, family-owned business, which allows us the benefit of being able to pay attention to detail. Our popcorn is made fresh daily in one location. The people that make it care deeply about quality as well as variety. We use the best ingredients available in our industry to create a taste that we feel is superior to other popcorn brands.
Q: Customers have compared their in-store experiences at your many Popcorn Bistro locations to "wine tastings in Napa Valley." How do you make sure this experience or feeling translates to your online store?
A: Although the experience in a Popcorn Bistro store will far exceed that which you will find on our website, we feel that the selection and description of our extensive menu will entice even the pickiest foodie out there! The visual presentation of our gourmet flavors make your mouth water and are hard to resist.
Q: How were you able to create such a great presence in your local geographic area so well? Any specific marketing tactics?
A: Community events have proven to be the best way to market ourselves in our community. We love to take part in events with organizations such as the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. We also enjoy contributing to local charities and fundraisers which has helped us feel very entwined with our area.
Q: What are some popcorn flavors you'd recommend for this upcoming holiday season?
A: The holiday season is our favorite time at Popcorn Bistro. We have traditional seasonal flavors which return each year, and we also add new ones to our holiday menu. We highly recommend our Pumpkin Spice Latte, Maple Glazed Buttered Pecan, and Salted Caramel for the fall. When December rolls around, our White Chocolate Peppermint is a customer favorite.
Q: Can you describe the creative process for coming up with your unique flavors?
A: So much thought is put into the development of new flavors. We want to make sure that when we create something new, it has the same “wow” factor that all of our other flavors have. Part of the development process includes customer request, as well as replicating flavors that are trending in the food industry.
Q: On that note, what are some new concoctions currently brewing in your kitchens?
A: We are currently trying to master a Maple Bacon for the Thanksgiving season and a Gingerbread Cookie for Christmas.
Q: What advice could you give to someone looking to start their own business in this industry?
A: I would advise them to understand the importance of patience in growing a business that must compete with national brands. Small businesses like ours must work and stay committed for many years in an attempt to be recognized in their industry.