Irwin Street Market used to be home to an old air conditioning and repair facility, but in 2006 Jake Rothschild had the idea of turning the space into an incubator for local food vendors as he was expanding his business, Jake’s Ice Cream.

Rothschild, who is gay, said his initial idea was to offer a space for local food vendors to showcase their wares.

Six years later, some 14 food merchants call Irwin Street Market home – including a coffeehouse, a bakery, several restaurants and a cooking school, which was voted one of the top three cooking schools in Atlanta in a recent Yelp survey.

Irwin Street Market showcases local food vendors


Irwin Street Market
660 Irwin Street NE, Atlanta GA 30312 

Rothschild said many of the employees who have worked in the Irwin Street Market, located in the heart of Atlanta’s revitalized Old Fourth Ward, are gay and lesbian.

“We’re an important part of the community,” Rothschild said. “We’re very diverse. We’re not political, but we’re warm and welcoming and supportive of gay causes.”

“There are plenty of gay people working there,” Rothschild added.

The cooking school, Irwin Street Community Kitchen, offers regular classes on everything from sharpening your knife skills to cooking with fish. There are even “singles nights” and classes geared toward children. The school offers some 25 classes each month hosted by six Atlanta chefs. Rothschild hosts regular classes on making ice cream.

Rothschild, 49, sold his stake in the Irwin Street Market in late 2011 but has stayed on as a creative consultant, he said.

Despite a down economy, Jake’s Ice Cream and Irwin Street Market continue to do well, he said.

“It really hasn’t been a negative,” Rothschild said. “People will always treat themselves to ice cream.”