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Popcorn Buddha opens its doors to much fanfare on Atlantic Avenue

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Dill pickle, everything bagel, mac & cheese, bubble gum and birthday cake — these are just some of the many unusual and delicious flavors of gourmet popcorn that patrons can enjoy at Popcorn Buddha in Lynbrook.

“We want people to come in and just taste things that they’ve never tasted before,” said storeowner Gary Ostroff, as his wife Theresa and two of the store’s employees enthusiastically served up free samples for patrons to try. “And to be amazed about how certain flavors of

popcorns taste exactly like what their name is.”

Popcorn Buddha popped up at 39 Atlantic Ave. in Lynbrook on Sept. 30, and since then, Ostroff said, it has received a lot of positive feedback. It offers 85 flavors of gourmet popcorn in seven different sizes and 20 varieties of fudge. The popcorn flavors are broken down in categories that include butter, cheese, caramel, fruity, nutty and chocolate, and Ostroff said he insists on having customers taste the flavors before they buy them.

According to Ostroff, he and Theresa learned about Popcorn Buddha when they visited a store in Pennsylvania during one of their frequent trips to the Poconos. He said their children, Lindsay, 17, Evan, 15, and Sabrina, 11, fell in love with the store and they visited it every time they were in the area. When the owners of the Pennsylvania store told them they were looking to make it a franchise, the Ostroffs thought it would be a good idea to open up a store in Lynbrook, where they have lived for 40 years.

“Everyone from young kids to senior citizens love it,” said Gary, who works as an attorney in Manhattan, while Theresa works for Northwell Health. “They come in and try everything and usually go home with different bags of flavors.”

Ostroff said it took three months to build the store and the process between deciding to open the franchise and actually launching it took six months. He added that, so far, the most popular flavors among customers have been southwest hot wing, Oreo and a special flavor called puppy chow, which is a mixture of popcorn, pretzels and rice chex coated in peanut butter and chocolate. As for his personal favorite, Ostroff said he enjoys angry lime. “It’s very good and it catches people by surprise how spicy it is,” he said.

Everything is hand-made and hand-bagged in the store. In the back room, there is a popping machine, a caramalizer for the candied popcorn, a fudge kettle for chocolate coating and fudge and cheese tumblers for the cheese corns. Patrons also have an opportunity to view the the popcorn being made through a window, usually between noon and 4 p.m. “It’s an interesting process,” Ostroff said, “and before I got into this, I didn’t know how involved making gourmet popcorn was.”

Popcorn Buddha also offers event themed gifts, birthday and party favors, popcorn stations for weddings and other events. The store has nine part-time employees and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“My favorite part has been the reactions we get when people first walk in and see the amount of flavors and then even more so when they start tasting the flavors,” Ostroff said. “And that’s my favorite part because people just come in and are just amazed. I like the feeling that we made it, and they’re enjoying it.”