HOBART | Approval in hand, Olympia Fields resident Dwayne Walker now plans to open his gourmet popcorn business off U.S. 30 sometime during the holidays.
"I'm hoping to open sometime after Thanksgiving but before Christmas," Walker said.
The Plan Commission on Thursday gave site plan approval to Walker to open his business in an existing building at 5470 E. Lincoln Highway.
"We're waiting to see things pop over there," Plan Commission chairman John Brezik said.
Walker said his new business, called Chicagoland Popcorn, will feature 250 varieties of popcorn that will be popped then flavored on site.
"I want to bring popcorn back to Northwest Indiana, the popcorn capital of the world," Walker said.
Varieties include strawberry cheesecake, chocolate pretzel and caramel cashew.
Architect Les Dreischerf outlined changes that would be made at the new business, the former site of a used car dealership lot.
Landscaping will be added to the front of the 1,714-square-foot building, which will be used for both sales and production, Dreischerf said.
Brezik said Walker had met planning requirements of parking spaces and landscaping, but he asked him to consider further sprucing up the front of the business.
"It's on U.S. 30; it should fit in with what's out there," Brezik said.
The Plan Commission approved plans stipulating Walker meet with staff to make sure the front area is aesthetically pleasing and the pond on the site is inspected.
Walker said he will be a licensee of a Georgia-based company that has 24 locations, none of which are in the Midwest.
Customers will be able to buy the various gourmet popcorn varieties in the retail portion of the shop.
Walker, who retired from his position as group president at ITW, said he researched locations for his new gourmet popcorn shop before selecting Hobart.
Walker and his wife came across what he called the perfect location, across from Albanese Confectionery, after going there to buy candy.
"I saw the for sale sign on a building right across the street from Albanese," Walker said.
He believes the bus tours that head to Albanese to buy candy soon will be adding his gourmet popcorn shop to their destination list.