Doc Popcorn, the world’s largest popcorn franchise retailer, is opening its first location in a Major League Baseball stadium, the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park. The kiosk will make its debut to fans on opening day April 14.
Franchise owners Jared Downs and Rudy Cook of Innovative Concessions Enterprises, LLC, are opening the new location just inside the main entrance from The Battery Atlanta. Cook started the company in 1989 as a frozen lemonade slush manufacturer. Over the past 28 years, Cook and Downs have expanded their concessions business to 3,200 accounts, 400—500 special event sales like PGA Tour Events and NASCAR Series races, distribution and retail. Downs joined the business in 1998 and helped lead the first franchised distribution arm for Dippin’ Dots, innovator and market leader of flash-frozen ice cream.
In addition to the new SunTrust Park Doc Popcorn kiosk, the pair owns three Dippin’ Dots mall locations, one Doc Popcorn mall location, and six Dippin’ Dots kiosks within SunTrust Park. They previously owned Dippin’ Dots locations in the former Braves stadium, Turner Field. Before today’s home opener at SunTrust Park, Cook and Downs had the chance to test Doc Popcorn’s product during exhibition games. It was met with positive feedback from both fans and management, which is how the permanent kiosk came about.
“SunTrust Park’s foodservice management was excited to introduce Doc Popcorn and see what the product could do for the ballpark’s popcorn sales. We’re thrilled to bring this gourmet popcorn to fans at the stadium, and we can’t think of a better way to spread smiles than with the delicious aroma of Doc Popcorn’s fresh popped flavors popping as guests walk in,” says Cook. “We offer a more unique popcorn experience than the typical concession stand popcorn, so we knew we had to get it into the Park and let guests decide for themselves. Given the favorable response, we envision adding more locations in SunTrust Park in the near future.”
In late 2014, after Dippin’ Dots acquired Doc Popcorn, the two companies started to open co-branded locations around the country. There are currently 16 dual-concept franchises with more franchise opportunities in the pipeline. The retail co-branding potential of the combined brands is what attracted Cook and Downs to add Doc Popcorn to their portfolio.
“Jared and Rudy are the ideal partners for us to expand our footprint into ballparks with,” says Rob Israel, founder of Doc Popcorn and ‘Big Pop.’ “The SunTrust Park kiosk is a major accomplishment for our brand as we continue to work toward building strategic partnerships in entertainment venues nationwide with our gourmet snack offering."
As a better-for-you snack option, Doc Popcorn creates its own proprietary flavor blends using high quality ingredients free of trans fat, MSG, artificial colors and preservatives. The brand has more than 100 mobile carts, kiosks and in-line stores around the world. Dippin’ Dots and Doc Popcorn expect to open 10 co-branded locations this year.