[Photos by Sandy Bressner - firstname.lastname@example.org]
[Jack Pepper runs the Batavia Popcorn Depot, which is owned by his dad, Bob Pepper. The stand has been in Batavia since 1929.]
BATAVIA – The Batavia Popcorn Depot bills itself as the oldest business in town, serving "great popcorn" since April 1929.
Today, Jack Pepper of Batavia keeps the popcorn flowing from the original diminutive building that has stood in a handful of locations over the years – the same structure built by the business's two young founders 89 years ago, Bud Anderson and Norm Freedlund.
Pepper said they called it Buddy and Norm's French Fried Popcorn, adding that Freedlund's oldest son is still a customer.
Way back when the two entrepreneurs were still too young to drive, they used to hitchhike down Route 31 to Aurora for supplies, Pepper said.
The roughly 6-by-8-foot building was homemade in a garage by the boys, likely with help from their family, Pepper said.
"They took it down to the original spot which was Main Street and Route 31 on the east side of Route 31," Pepper said. "[It stood] in a grocery store … parking lot – the Chase bank lot now."
Pepper's family has operated the stand for 21 years, with his father, Bob Pepper of Geneva, purchasing the business from a relative and his partner and operating it himself before his son, Jack Pepper, took on the operation eight years ago.
When its previous location across the street was no longer available about 11 years ago, the city arranged a rental agreement to move the stand to the city's nearby parking lot with its easy access for customers. The business sits on the east side of North Water Street just south of Houston Street.