How did this all begin?
Jake’s was founded by three plucky folks in 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia. Each believed that Atlanta…and the world…needed a better choice for ice cream and after a lot of work, a lot of trial and error, and even a blazing fire…Jake’s was born. Located at 676 Highland Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward, the Jake’s flagship store was created in a dilapidated turn-of-the-century storefront, across from three crack houses, a scrap metal yard and a body shop.
We faced a roofless building with no windows, no plumbing, no wiring, no parking lot…more than just a fixer-upper. Never afraid of a good challenge, Jake had his reasons. All he had to do was turn to his right and look at the beautiful Atlanta skyline and to the left and see one of Atlanta’s most beautiful neighborhoods (Inman Park) and he knew he was planting Jake’s in the right spot. Jake predicted that this would be one of Atlanta’s next great neighborhoods. 16 years later, property values have skyrocketed and the neighborhood is booming.
Why would the founders have taken such a huge risk?
“We were deliberate in our choice of a location for our first shop,” responds, founder, Jake Rothschild. “We wanted to put Jake’s in a place that was not only affordable, but that needed us with the hope we could help transform the community.”
And that is exactly what happened. Old 4th Ward is now one of the hottest communities in Metro Atlanta and Jake’s had a part in this. “We pioneered…took a chance on a struggling neighborhood and invested our hearts and yes, our funds, into a place that needed us,” said Rothschild.
Jake tells us that he is often asked what made him to decide to go into the ice cream business. His response?
And he goes on to explain, “I was fascinated with the idea of making people smile for a living and I thought ice cream would help me do that. The ice cream business is for certain, not an easy one with the seasonality of it, the up and down fears of sugar and fat…and the amazing fights people have with themselves over the guilt of eating it. But in the long run it was a good, right decision because the ice cream has made many people smile and no matter how hard the journey has been…no matter how ‘rocky the road’, it has been worth it.
So where did this idea come from?
In 1999, the choices for ice cream were slim. Atlanta’s beloved Tim’s was gone. And what was left were a few Baskin and Robbins and Dairy Queens.
Founder Jake Rothschild felt that Atlanta needed good home made ice cream and a really cool place to enjoy it.
No fluorescent lights, no hard chrome and plastic chairs, no pre-programmed music backing pre-programmed speeches from polyester-uniformed singing robots.
Some folks give Jake’s the credit for getting the whole thing started for taking the chance on a very scary neighborhood. Jake’s response?
“I’ve never been afraid to pioneer…I started in Cabbagetown before it blossomed, too. Someone had to take the first step and I knew it wouldn’t be long before the whole neighborhood would come to life. I am very proud to have had even a small role in the rebirth of Old Fourth Ward.”
In 2005, Jake’s was ready to grow and one short block away, the team found the perfect location…660 Irwin Street…and became the anchor tenant for the Irwin Street Marketwww.irwinstreetmarket.com. It was similar to the original location in that it was big and in less than show-ready shape. The building had been used as a refrigeration and air conditioning repair place just like the original location, but in the later years it was also a warehouse, an art gallery and reportedly an underground rave space.
There was much work to do with many truckloads of “stuff” to haul away and a kitchen to build, but over the course of the next year, we all got to work and in September 2006, Jake’s was home again in the neighborhood.