JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — John Brady can’t pop the corn fast enough.
His business, Patriot Popcorn in downtown Johnson City, has been open for just a couple of months. Already, customers claim their uniquely flavored crunchy snacks as quickly as he can pop a batch, season it to order, and bag it up for sale.
“We bit the bullet, and we took a chance,” Brady said of his decision to move to Johnson City after driving through town and falling in love. “We jumped on it, and everything worked out by the blessings. And here we are – smooth sailing.
Brady boasts 310 custom flavors of corn. Every recipe is his own, and each is a secret that he says lives only in his mind.
“There’s the “Maple Bacon Pecan” blend, the “1776” bourbon whiskey-infused salted caramel pretzel,” he said, rattling off the names of some of his most popular flavors. “Obviously, there’s our ‘Crack’ which is caramel covered in cheddar. That’s a perfect salty sweet.”
Brady could go on. After all, he’s had a while to think about it, even if he’s only 29 years old.
“Since we were kids I always wanted to my own popcorn shop,” he said.
After years of thinking about it, he and his brother made the decision to land in Johnson City while scouting out a potential location in Northeast Tennessee.
“We came down to check these some towns out, and then we came to Johnson City and were like, ‘What is this?'”
They picked their own location, a street-level storefront at the corner of South Roan Street and State of Franklin Road.
But walk inside and you’ll soon see, Brady’s business is about more than popcorn. Patches from different first responder departments and branches of the U.S. military line the wall – all gifts from his customers.
“We love to welcome veterans and first responders, Brady said.
The eight-year Army veteran and former first responder says serving the front line heroes in the Tri-Cities is part of the mission of his business.
“‘Patriot’ comes from our love of everybody in the community, taking care of what really needs to be done,” he said. “The way we were brought up is God, country, and family, and I take a great pride in this community and helping those that are desperately in need.”
Brady says that’s often veterans and first responders, some of who are in silent struggles to cope with the things they did and saw while on the front lines.
“In that situation, it’s ‘How much of it at you alive to put you in a dark hole?'” he said. “And now – what do we need to do to reach down and pull you out?”
Brady says he looks for ways every day to reach out to veterans who often just need a bit of support.
“More often than not, a lot of these folks have just given up because they haven’t received the help that they needed or had someone to talk to you,” he said. “And not just in a crisis. No. Someone who actually cares.”
Patriot Popcorn is at 407 South Roan at the corner of State of Franklin Road in the heart of downtown Johnson City.