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An Atlanta ice cream entrepreneur has big plans for a makers hub in downtown Hapeville

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The first phase, debuting soon in part of a Hapeville church, is a cooking school, culinary incubator, and market

A parking lot with a building at right and colorful wall mural.
A wide shot of the front of the complex, and its prideful mural, facing Dogwood Drive.
Photos by Mike Jordan

A local businessman who’s been serving ice cream in Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park long before the Beltline became a thing has a new goal: He wants to bring you to Hapeville and teach you how to cook.

Eventually, visitors to the multifaceted facility in a historic city eight miles south of downtown might find retail, galleries, and live music.

Jake Rothschild, who founded Jake’s Ice Cream in 1999 in what’s now Jack’s Pizza & Wings before moving to Irwin Street Market in 2005, is partnering with Hapeville’s the Village Church to open several spaces, which will collectively be called The Village Maker’s Market.

The project will launch with The Cooking School at the Village. It’s the third metro Atlanta post for Rothschild’s public culinary classes, following his Sweet Selma Farms outpost in College Park, and the Irwin Street location next to his ice cream parlor.

This time, instead of an underserved area not far from downtown Atlanta, it’s downtown Hapeville—one block from Arches Brewing, and less than a mile from Porsche’s North American headquarters—that Rothschild sees a land of opportunity. He’s beginning in a building that was once a used car dealership, and more recently the dance, gymnastics, and musical theater company Tatum Dance Collective.

Eventual plans, however, call for making use of the entire lot on which the brick building sits.

But first, the cooking laboratory.

A kitchen space in a cooking school.
The main kitchen in The Cooking School.

Classes include “Sunday Brunch,” “Pastabilities,” “Creole Dinner Party,” and sessions where attendees learn how to make breads, Indian and Chinese cuisines, and more.

Rothschild also says he’s launching a new cooking challenge called “Kitchen Chaos,” which will function like a televised cooking competition.

Participants will have two hours to figure out which tools and ingredients to use to create a meal on their own, with the main proteins provided, but with limited guidance. Rothschild says he’s trademarking the name, which a friend suggested after a corporate team-building event featuring Deloitte employees turned into an unexpectedly creative—and apparently successful—cooking affair.

A whimsical collection of pans and tools hang from a board on the kitchen’s wall.

A longtime College Park resident, Rothschild’s ambitious plans for the Village, a 29,000-square-foot property on about 1.5 acres at the intersection of Dogwood Drive and King Arnold Street, expand beyond The Cooking School.

His overarching goal, he says, is to promote a sense of community by binding residents together behind good causes.

The church is still the landlord, but Rothschild will be allowed to turn a Sunday school space into an after-school enrichment program where cooking, sewing and other home economics, along with lessons on creating handmade arts and crafts, will be taught to youth. He wants the space to have a Ralph Lauren aesthetic, and intends to suspend a wooden boat from the ceiling, to stoke the imagination of children who use it as a reading room.

A large gray room with white chairs and a few carpets.
Another facet of the property now.

The front area of the space is decorated with repurposed furniture Rothschild found on Facebook Marketplace and refurbished himself, with the help of friends and employees. He says he paid between $2 and $10 for each of the antique chairs, and left some of their imperfections visible on purpose.

“If it’s not too perfect, people are more relaxed,” he says.

The main kitchen area receives plenty of natural light from the full windows facing Dogwood Drive. A variety of cooking pans and copper mugs hang from the mounted pin board on the open kitchen’s walls near the refrigerator, industrial sink and island, which has a gas range built into the stone surface top. Rustic wooden tables fill the floor beyond the counter, where students and guests will eat the meals they prepare.

The seating area in front of The Cooking School’s main kitchen.

There’s a second, roomier kitchen that’s set up for filming, with its own separate sound room and a TriCaster remote video production setup to control multiple cameras that catch various angles of cooking action. Without going into pricing details for renting the kitchen studio, Rothschild says, “We’re going to keep it so low that nobody will be able to turn us down.”

There will eventually be a third incubator kitchen area, with cubicle-sized areas for cooking. And the 4,000-square-foot auditorium, where church services are held for two hours every Sunday morning, will double afterwards as a Variety Playhouse-style space for live music, conventions, and other events.

By next month, Rothschild hopes to open The Cooking School to young adults who’ll cook dinner for their parents. He also plans to work with Tri-Cities High School’s culinary arts program to set up an emergency pantry to provide better nutrition to students lacking food security in the city and surrounding areas—some of which could be considered food deserts.

And finally, there’s The Garages-On-Estelle, a 9,000-square-foot collection of former storage spaces in the rear of the lot facing Estelle Street.

Rothschild wants to make it an event, retail, café, and gallery space.

The Garages-On-Estelle space.

Rothschild believes there’s apprehension among people who might be interested in cooking classes but don’t want to be hit with the timeshare-style captive audience sales pitch. So he talks to customers before the classes, letting them know how the experience will go, then easing them in by letting them know that instead of a commercial for pots and pans at the end, they’re getting free scoops of his ice cream.

“We have the stuff for sale, but we never talk about it. If they ask us, we’ll tell them, but we’re not here to sell them anything,” Rothschild says of customers, once they’ve signed up for classes, which cost $85, at Bookeo.com.

A banner that says The Cooking School at The Village over the doors of a building.
The concept’s tentative signage.

Rothschild is still waiting on Fulton County government to decide on a few licensing requirements, but he expects to get the green light any day now, and then can open within days.

He’s not letting the temporary delay dim his attitude about what he wants to bring to his Tri-Cities stomping grounds.

“We’re just on fire right now,” he says. “Having a blast.”

Two buildings beyond a parking lot.