13 Questions is a weekly series where we ask chefs 13 questions to get to know them outside of the kitchen. Steven Carse is the cofounder and CEO of King of Pops.
What’s the worst flavor you’ve ever come up with?
We had a grapefruit avocado fennel that was absolutely terrible.
Have you ever run into any celebrities at the stands?
Jennifer Lawrence is a huge fan. She requests for catering to the set. I’ve met most of The Walking Dead cast and Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis.
How did King of Pops yoga in Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park come about?
We started it last year as an employee benefit thing, and if someone stopped and they wanted to join us, they could. Last year, a good turnout was 35. This year, the very first one 250 people came out, and it’s grown from there. I think we’ve had like over 700 people at one point. It’s really crazy and fun. I do yoga, but I am by no means an expert, so it’s nice to not be self-conscious.
Any crazy stories of customers in some of your pop-up locations?
The Corner is across the street from Manuel’s, and there are some pretty good drinkers over there. You’ll be helping a customer and, afterwards, find someone is seated in your chair, half passed out. It’s not a good look for the 8-year-olds with their parents buying pops.
What is your fast food guilty pleasure?
When I’m on the road, it’s Zaxby’s Zax Snak: chicken fingers, Zax Sauce, fries, and Texas toast.
Given your company’s name, what’s your favorite Michael Jackson song?
“Man in the Mirror.” It has a great message.
You came up with the idea for King of Pops while traveling through Central America. Where do you want to travel next?
Each winter, I travel somewhere. Last winter, I went to Southeast Asia. Usually, I go to Central America, but I was thinking this winter I might try an English-speaking country, maybe Australia to try to surf.
When you aren’t slinging popsicles, what do you do for fun?
We have a co-ed soccer team that’s pretty fun. I like to cook. I like to try the newest restaurant; I always go to everything at least once, but usually I end up at the same places: Victory, Church, Ammazza, and Dish Dive.
What’s the best and worst thing about being in business with your brother, Nick, and your parents?
It’s kind of changed a lot. I work really closely with Nick. The good thing obviously is we trust each other, and we really know each other well. We have a good relationship where we can walk away, and later nothing is bothering us. With my mom and dad, I know they’ll keep a good eye out and have our best interests in mind, but it’s kind of awkward to ask your mom or dad to do something specific.
You grew up in Snellville and stuck around, but what’s one thing you would change about Atlanta?
One thing that used to frustrate to me is this idea of people saying they’re kind of stuck in Atlanta and moving to Portland, Austin, or New York. I want to increase the amount of pride people have in our city and not in a sports team type of way. But that’s changed lately for the better.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a soccer player probably until I was 13 or 14, when I realized I wasn’t good enough. Then I got pretty into writing and wanted to be either a nonfiction author or a journalist. I went to UGA for journalism, and my first job after school I moved to Idaho Falls to be a journalist. I was there not quite a year because I was making a little under $17,000, and I was really into snowboarding and not being responsible with my money, so Nick got me a job back at AIG.
What was the weirdest thing about being portrayed by an actor in the King of Pops, The Post-Apocalyptic Musical! at Dad’s Garage?
The first 10 minutes of the musical, I was very uncomfortable just watching it. Obviously, it’s fictionalized, but in a sense it’s kind of how people view you. The guy in the musical is super happy-go-lucky and very nice and almost never gets mad. I hope I can be like that, but that’s a lot pressure to always be positive force.