John and Lisa are Interviewing…Connie Correia Fisher of The Pop Shop
Yes, it’s Sunday and not Wednesday. And yes, today is Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year…but it’s also the start of National Pancake Week. So, to help kick off a week of flapjack fun, which The Pop Shop in Collingswood will be celebrating with some fun events, we present our interview with Connie Correia Fisher. Connie and her husband Stink (more on that later) are the owners of The Pop Shop, which has become of the more well-known eateries on Haddon Avenue.
J&L: What distinguishes The Pop Shop from a typical diner or family restaurant?
Connie: We combine the best of diner food and family restaurant casualness and take it up a notch or two. As far as food goes — we make almost everything from scratch, roast our own meats, use artisan breads. We take diner classics and twist them into fun interpretations. From a family aspect — we want everyone in the family to feel at home. That means the little ones, the college age kids, the parents and grandparents. We try to have something for everyone on the menu (including gluten-free items, vegan and vegetarian offerings) and we feel that each client is the most important client — even if that customer is 2 years old and won’t be happy until he gets an orange balloon.
J&L: What, in your opinion, makes Collingswood such a restaurant mecca?
Connie: Collingswood has such the “Main Street USA” feel. People just like coming here and restaurants here flourish. We are all independently owned and we care about our businesses, our employees and our place in the community. I think our customers feel that dedication.
J&L: Despite the economy, The Pop Shop seems to continue to do brisk business. How do you manage this?
Connie: The Pop Shop is affordable. You can get a huge salad with homemade dressing for under $6.00. You can have breakfast any time of the day. A vegan, a burger lover, a gluten-free person, a fussy preschooler and a dieting mom can all eat together, for a reasonable cost in a friendly energy-filled environment. I think people also appreciate that we are not a chain restaurant. The owners are real people on site and caring about the business.
J&L: Where do you see The Pop Shop five years from now?
Connie: We’d like to open four more Pop Shops in small towns with busy Main Streets and then we’d like to start franchising.
J&L: Tell us about your best and worst experiences in this business.
Connie: The best is getting to meet so many people and give them a great experience. I still can’t believe it when people drive an hour to come to us — it makes me so proud. The worst is not being in control of some things. Like snow, like gas hikes that increase our costs. Despite being busy, the restaurant business is a nickel and dime industry. Every penny counts and it can be tough to make ends meet sometimes.
J&L: How do you use technology (Twitter, Facebook, texts, etc.) to promote your business?
Connie: We have a big Facebook following and just started tweeting. We have a large e-mail database that I send monthly newsletters and updates to.
J&L: How did “Stink” get his nickname?
Connie: He’s an actor who used to play football. People would say “Hey Fisher! You stink!” They “Stink” part just stuck.
J&L: What are your favorite places to eat in the Collingswood area?
Connie: We have little kids so we don’t get to eat out as much as we would like to but when we can get away we love Tortilla Press, Sagami, Mikado, Cafe Antonio for pizza, Melange Cafe.
J&L: What would your last meal be?
Connie: Pasta, garlic bread, caprese salad, flourless chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream. And the caramelized pecans they sell at Severinos!
J&L: What did you think of the results of your grilled cheese throwdown with Bobby Flay? 🙂
Connie: WOW! I never in a million years thought the impact of that show would be so huge. We now have fans from all over the country. People drive 2 hours to come see us. It was a huge thrill that I will be forever grateful for. We just found out we’ll be in the Throwdown cookbook! Very exciting.