The Atlanta Dairies development on Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown is staying true to its milky roots. There, King of Pops will launch its foray into ice cream with the opening of a diner and dessert spot called Wonderkid in September. The King of Pops founders, brothers Steven and Nick Carse, partnered with Big Citizen hospitality group’s Eric Simpkins and Darren Carr (the Lawrence, Bon Ton) to put a modern, whimsical spin on a traditional diner.
“The kid in all of us is definitely a part of the restaurant,” Simpkins says.
He says the team was inspired by the history of the Atlanta Dairies, an Art Deco-style building built in the 1940s that once housed a dairy cooperative—as well as “great albums” and movies like Pulp Fiction.
“We’re not trying to make the next greasy spoon. It’ll be elevated and modern diner food but still approachable,” he says.
The bulk of Wonderkid’s 4,000-square-foot space will be divided between a bar and lounge area and the diner, with interiors designed by Smith Hanes Studio that mix wood, leather, and exposed brick. Expect to hear old soul, b-bop, rock ‘n’ roll, and, of course, the Pulp Fiction soundtrack playing inside. The bar is repurposed from a pharmacy soda shop counter and paired with vintage barstools. There’s a cashier’s counter where Wonderkid will sell T-shirts, coffee cups, hats, and other branded paraphernalia. The lounge area features leather couches and coffee tables with a “midcentury modern-meets-1970s California coffee shop” vibe, Simpkins says.
Wonderkid will also have an ice cream counter, which will be more “bright, playful, and light” Carse says, noting that the colors become more muted in the diner area. Guests can walk under a literal rainbow to access a private events space called, fittingly, the Rainbow Room. Simpkins describes it as “wild and colorful” with a neon-lit door. He envisions patrons using the space to sip coffee, work, and relax. The restaurant will also have a patio.
Justin Dixon—previously of the Shed at Glenwood—is the executive chef. There will be a classic French omelet, biscuits made in house, breakfast plates and sandwiches, a burger, and other comfort food favorites. Breakfast will be offered all day, and there will be nightly blue plates and seasonal, organic, market specials.
Big Citizen corporate chef (and Simpkins’s wife) Sarah Hagamaker is working on “playful takes” on classic desserts such as chess pie and lemon cake. All of the desserts will be available with King of Pops soft serve ice cream. Some desserts, such as brownies and peach cobbler, will be served a la mode.
Since chocolate sea salt is King of Pops’s best-selling pop flavor, Wonderkid will serve a similar flavor of ice cream, alongside vanilla and dairy-free, seasonal fruit flavors. There will be an extensive selection of pops with options for dipping and topping, too, similar to the brand’s Ponce City Market outpost. All frozen treats can be ordered from the diner menu or at the ice cream counter.
Wonderkid will be open until midnight during the week and until 1 a.m. on weekends, with food served until closing time. (“At night, the lights will come down, and it will get a little more sexy,” Simpkins says.) Taylor Blackgrave, formerly of the Lawrence, will be the bar manager.
“We want to have secret cocktails available, like [the secret food menu] at In-N-Out,” says Simpkins, who is creating the cocktail list. “It will be simple and fun with a bit of nostalgia—less amaro and bitter-based, spirit-driven cocktails and more fruity and fun.”
There will be 8-12 cocktails and at least five nonalcoholic drinks. “We’re inspired by soda fountains, so we’ll be creating a couple of frozen ice cream drinks with King of Pops,” he says.
Wonderkid will have 20-30 beers in cans and bottles. There will be 10-15 wines by the glass and 20-30 by the bottle. “Fun kind of rules the roost—these will be geeky, hard-to-find, and rowdy wines,” Simpkins says.
Don’t want to wait until fall to try the ice cream? King of Pops is hosting a tasting at the Good Vibes Market event at its Inman Park headquarters—552 Decatur Street—on August 7.