Originally I planned to introduce you to Kernel Sweetooth today because Halloween is the beginning of their busy holiday season. Now with a very heavy heart, I must share the ending of their ten years of successes in historic Frankfort with the closing of the Frankfort store but, share their continued growth and fabulous service in Tinley Park.
We met the Kernel about 15 years ago when my daughter and I were selling at a market in Palos. Gary was in the booth next to ours and we were forced to smell his popcorn all day long. What torture! What perfectly lovely torture! And, what a great guy! Gary is just the best. We hit it off immediately and became good friends. The friendly banter of the market stall owners benefited greatly from Gary’s curmudgeonly yet kind demeanor and we laughed and laughed and laughed. There is just something about beginning a friendship with laughter that makes it last a long time. During the set-up time for the market he helped us with our tent, gave us advice based on his years of experience working markets, let us sample his first batch of kettle corn for the day, helped us take our tent down at the end of the market, and we truly appreciated the help. In turn, we talked up his kettle-corn and cheese popcorn as much as possible; sending our customers to his tent every chance we got. To this day, I still believe Kernel Sweetooth has the best cheese popcorn on the market.
Opening their first store in Tinley Park was a huge commitment. We listened to Gary’s indecision; which location would be best, could he find a place in historic Frankfort or would Tinley Park be better, where would there be more foot traffic, how would he find staff and how much staff did they need, could they survive the winter months, on and on the questions came. We listened and he and Debbie made plans. We listened and they went forward, finding this great location on Oak Park Avenue in Tinley Park next door to a carry-out only pizza place. That decision turned out to be genius. People came to pick up their pizza; then stopped in for popcorn and sweets for family movie night. And, they became known for their delicious snacks.
When Treat Street in historic Frankfort decided to sell just a few years later, they took the plunge and opened a second store; and amazingly continued selling at markets. To go from only selling their products at markets to two store in just a few years was a huge step but, they persevered and today have a bustling business well know for quality products and friendly service.
Will they be missed in historic Frankfort? Undoubtedly! But you can still get all their wonderful items at the Tinley Park store and some of them on-line HERE on their website.
Why are they leaving historic Frankfort after 10 years? It’s not their choice; Kernel Sweetooth was unable to renew their lease and must vacate their space in the Trolley Barn by the end of October. As you read this, they are moving their equipment to storage with plans to continue to look for a place to possibly come back to historic Frankfort. Ultimately, they would welcome the opportunity to continue as a shop in the historic district and are currently trying everything possible to return before the summer season.
Even though the shop at 11 S. White St. in the Trolley Barn building closed its doors this past Tuesday, October 24th you can still get all their tasty treats at their original location at 17258 S. Oak Park Ave. in Tinley Park.
Watch their Facebook page HERE to get the scoop on all their plans.
Known for their gourmet popcorn in eight flavors, hand-dipped ice cream, Hawaiian shaved ice, homemade chocolates, gourmet caramel apples, candy and other sweet treats Kernel Sweetooth also customizes cookies and treats for events, such as weddings, birthdays, business events, etc. Call the shop to discuss these impressive custom cookies and treats. My favorites are their wedding favors like the bride and groom gourmet caramel apples or bride and groom pretzels.
One thing they do at Kernel Sweetooth that is really a cost savings for their frequent customers is their re-fill a tin of popcorn for half off deal. When you purchase a tin of popcorn, they put a Kernel Sweetooth sticker on the bottom. Then when the tin owner returns for a refill that sticker entitles the them to save half off the regular price for a tin of popcorn; get it filled with any type popcorn, cheese popcorn, caramel corn, etc. Fantastic!
Stop in soon, the Tinley Park shop is open seven days a week. Fall/winter hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For information, call the Tinley Park location at 708-444-7677.