I do not have to tell you about Garrett Popcorn Shops, do I?
I see you lined up at its various Chicago outposts, locals and tourists alike, patiently waiting in lines so long you might think they were giving the stuff away for nothing or offering a free iPad 2 with every purchase.
You obviously love Garrett popcorn and why not? It is very good popcorn.
But let me tell you instead about Mother Butter's Popcorn and Confectionary. It was opened in the shadow of Comiskey… pardon me, U.S. Cellular Field… at 17 W. 35th St., on April 6, 2009 by a very pleasant couple named Tim and Jennifer Donnelly. They live in the South Loop now but are proud natives of Beverly.
Even before they married in 2005 they were thinking about their shared future and nurturing a dream that they might one day own their own business.
He was an electrician and the nephew of the late Therese Fox, who owned Fox's Beverly Pub. He started working there when he was 12 and knew his way around a kitchen.
"We both loved popcorn," says Jennifer. "We spent a lot of time experimenting."
And so it was popcorn — easy to make, hospitable to various flavors — that gave them the idea of opening a store.
Jennifer, who teaches art at the Dawes Elementary School on the Southwest Side, took business classes in her spare time and together the couple started searching "well, everywhere, all over the city and suburbs," before settling on a new apartment building complex.
"We knew we had made the right choice when we opened and a woman came in and, almost with tears in her eyes, said, 'I never thought I'd ever see another store like this in my neighborhood'," says Tim, who works fulltime at the store. "She had lived in Bronzeville her whole life and saw things when they were good and when they got bad. She was so happy."
Mother Butter's shares the building's retail space with some other businesses, such as a Starbucks. Though any new business is a good thing for an underserved area, it is non-franchise places such as Mother Butter's that give neighborhoods their greatest hope. (See also Bronzeville Coffee and Tea at 528 E. 43rd St.)
"We wanted to be part of a neighborhood that was growing and grow with it," says Tim.
They have a handsome and colorful shop. Though the store's popcorn has made its way by word-of-mouth into the ritzy Trump Hotel and the store's walls contain the autographs of such notable customers as former Sox pitcher Ed Farmer and Frank Orrall of the band Poi Dog Pondering, this is marvelously a neighborhood spot.
As for the popcorn, they started with five flavors and now have a couple dozen, including Red Pepper Cheddar, Caramel Cashew (an Osgood favorite) and Cheezy BBQ. They make it on site with all-natural ingredients and also carry chocolates made exclusively for them and all sorts of self-serve bulk candy and nuts.
"And, you can take any of our stuff into the ballpark with you," says Tim.
And, yes, the Sox are in town through Wednesday.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun