Parramore business owner works to preserve black history as area grows

Owner of popcorn junkie says he’s here to stay

Popcorn Junkie on Church Street

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Orlando Parramore’s community continues to evolve, some residents are vying to be a part of the change.

The changes to the area are rising rents as the historic Orlando neighborhood becomes more popular forcing some people out but Neal Crosier, the owner of Popcorn Junkie on Church Street, said his business is there to stay.

Crosier’s shop sells specialty popcorns, snacks and drinks.

“The whole picture of the history, it makes a commitment on our part, me and my wife are dedicated to building this area up and we want to be apart of it,” Crosier said.

Crosier said the change is for the better and it’s creating a more bustling and booming Parramore.

More affordable housing has opened in the area and the Orlando City soccer stadium is drawing in new restaurants and shops. Only a few blocks away you can find creative village housing the new downtown campuses for the University of Central Florida and Valencia College.

Neal Crosier, right.

He said despite the changes, the new growth has been a plus for his business.

“Seeing more people come through the store especially on game day and stuff like that, so yes, I think the changes are very good,” Crosier said.

Crosier said he’s committed to investing and building up the area, especially on the west side of Church street.

“We met with the commissioner and saw how much they’ve changed the area and trying to bring it back, and we want to be apart of that,” Crosier said.

He's also investing in the youth in Parramore. Crosier has partnered with the Parramore Kid Zone to teach kids how to run a business and make good choices. Last summer, Crosier hired five high school seniors to work for his shop. He taught them life skills, the importance of grooming and going to college.

Crosier said he also wants to preserve the rich history of the area and encourage other people in the area to open small businesses.

“There’s a lot of potential here and good people,” Crosier said. “I’m considering a training program to help others maintain and get their own business.”

Crosier, who has operated his business in Parramore for almost three years, said the area could benefit from growth and gentrification coming to downtown.

“I just hope everybody can last longer enough to see the full effect of the changes,” Crosier said. “We work with different organizations in the area so we kind of have a commitment to be here.”

Orlando city commissioner Regina Hill said the city is working to help some businesses with funding and planning.

“We are trying to make sure we maintain the small businesses that are in Parramore,” Hill said.

To read more about business incentives and services offered by the city of Orlando to assist small businesses, click here.

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.