It looks like Birmingham-based Steel City Pops is getting out of the popsicle business in Decatur, and possibly in Atlanta. The popsicle purveyor’s shop, across from Victory Sandwich Bar on Church Street in downtown Decatur, is for lease, Decaturish reports. Steel City remains open until a new tenant is secured for the space.
Steel City will also not be opening at Madison Yards on Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown as planned, according to Tomorrow’s News Today. That space seems to have now been leased to Atlanta-based Four Fat Cows ice cream.
Steve Josovitz, a real estate broker for the Shumacher Group, says of Steel City’s decision to leave Atlanta, “They have other markets they’re growing, and they want to focus on other markets.” Josovitz apparently already has restaurants looking into Steel City’s space.
Eater Atlanta reached out to Steel City for comment and to confirm their status in Atlanta.
Decaturish has been following Decatur’s popsicle wars closely for the last few months, reporting in May on the city’s apparent ploy to favor Steel City over Atlanta’s King of Pops as a vendor on the downtown square. The three-part investigative report includes the review of more than 400 public records, which highlight how the city seemed to promote Steel City over Old Fourth Ward-based King of Pops. Records on the matter from the city date back to 2017, the year Steel City first arrived in Decatur.
The popsicle fracas began when Decatur reestablished a “pilot program” that essentially gave street vending rights on the square to Steel City over King of Pops due to both companies offering a similar product. King of Pops had been offering popsicles via a cart on the square for several years until they lost access in 2018 under Decatur’s new street vending rules.
City officials eventually agreed to “develop a formal policy specifying a preference for local vendors.” Although, they have yet to specify what constitutes a “local” business.
Steel City opened in 2012 in the suburb of Homewood, Alabama. The popsicle company now has 23 locations throughout the Southeast.
As for King of Pops, it’s unclear if city of Decatur will ask them back to sling popsicles again on the square. King of Pops is preparing to open a diner with their ice cream on the menu called Wonderkid with Big Citizen restaurant group (Bon Ton, The Lawrence) at Atlanta Dairies — just down the street from Madison Yards, where Steel City was to open its second Atlanta area location.
“Ice cream has been on our mind for quite a while. Years ago, we went to Ice Cream School at Penn State, but the time just didn’t seem right,” King of Pops co-owner Steven Carse said last October. “When the Atlanta Dairies project popped up less than a mile from our headquarters, it seemed like a sign.”
Eater reached out to inquire about the status of Wonderkid.