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New ownership for Dave's Popcorn

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We won't keep you in any suspense. They're not going to change anything. Well, not much, anyway. 

The half-century-old iconic treat shack went up for sale about a month ago, and the south Minneapolis neighborhood that's relied on the place to live forever had a bit of a collective freakout. At worst, it would close, at worse than that, some hipster would buy it and turn it into a bulgogi taco shop. 

Nope and nope. Andy Gray, his wife Laura, and their three kids have acquired the little red edifice, and not a one of them is a hipster. In fact, Andy is a pastor/engineer with a serious yen for small-town ideals. 

"I grew up in a small town and I love the idea of small-town icons in the big city." He loved the place so much, he says, that he actually went snooping a couple of years ago, but the previous owners weren't ready to sell. When he found out that it was up for sale recently, "I said I'd drive by the place for the rest of my life and regret it if I didn't do it." 

So do it he did, and they're already popping corn over the old "flame popped" system on the old-timey machine he inherited with the purchase, original to the space so far as he knows. It's this, and the high quality white corn the business uses, that gives it its special worth-the-drive-thru flavor. 

The drive-thru is also a throwback — the city doesn't offer those kinds of licenses anymore, and while there's only one window, and most folks walk up, Andy says yes, you can still drive up and grab that corn. 

He's no foodie, but he has been making the same peanut butter ice cream topping since he was a kid, and he'd like to put a peanut butter sundae on the menu, as well as his foodie brother's idea for coconut curry popcorn "and some other spicy thing I can't remember." 

But flavor updates aside, he says he's far more interested in maintaining, and emphasizing the community gathering place than anything else. He's envisioning family nights with a big billowing grill, "cook your meats and get your treats"; Vikings games on a big outdoor screen; and water games for the kids. His high school children will be doing a lot of the work, which he calls "the best thing ever," because it reminds him of the rural mom-and-pop ice cream shops of his childhood and the all important, rite-of-passage first summer job. 

"The sign says 'In the Old Tradition of Dave's,' and that will remain," he insists. 

If you happen to live in the hood, keep your eyes peeled for the Greys during National Night Out. They say they'll be trolling the streets, armed with popcorn and delivering treats to unsuspecting neighbors. 

Dave's Popcorn 

1848 E. 38th St., Minneapolis

612-481-9839