King of Pops co-founder Steven Carse shares why Atlanta ‘is a city we should be proud of’ is a new episode of ATL Close Up. Carse also shares his picks for hottest restaurants, places to party and shop in Atlanta. (Video produced by Ryon Horne, Najja Parker / AJC)

King of Pops co-founder Steven Carse shares why Atlanta ‘is a city we should be proud of’

Love perusing through social media to find out what your favorite influencers are up to? Get a closer glimpse into how they spend their time in Atlanta with “ATL Closeup,” a new AJC feature that explores the leisure lives of some of the city’s most notable personalities as they go from work to play mode over the course of a typical weekend —from their favorite places to dine to the little-known spots where they find retreat.

Have you ever strolled through Piedmont Park or Ponce City Market and spotted a friendly face with a colorful cart of yummy popsicles? You have Steven Carse to thank for that.

The co-founder of King of Pops, along with his brother Nick Carse, has been blessing locals with frozen treats for nearly 10 years. From flavors such as Lemon Basil (his personal favorite) to Banana Puddin’, Carse loves making life a little sweeter.

The Minnesota native, who moved to Atlanta with his family during his kindergarten years, is also dedicated to community building. Company events around town like yoga and art showcases bring people together. It’s his way of giving back to the city that helped raise him.

“I like that there’s an opportunity and an excitement to support each other,” the Westview resident told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I feel like people can get behind things more easily here. I really appreciate that. ... It’s something we should be proud of.”

When the easygoing entrepreneur isn’t tending to his business, he’s carving out time to hit up some of his favorite haunts. Here’s where you’ll likely find the 35-year-old on the weekend.

» RELATED: Atlanta pops: King of Pops frozen pops recipes

Finger-licking good meal

At dinnertime, Carse has three loves: He’s either at The Lawrence in Midtown for a burger, Ticonderoga Club at Krog Street Market for seafood or 97 Estoria in Cabbagetown for cocktails.

What do these restaurants have in common? The businessman always feels like he’s at home when steps in the door.

“I find that I’m drawn to the slightest relational connection,” he explained. “In addition to being at a place I like, if I connect with either a manager or waiter, just the simplest thing of remembering somebody, I do find that really makes a difference.”

His top dining picks:

The Lawrence, 905 Juniper St NE, Atlanta. 404-961-7177, thelawrenceatlanta.com.

Ticonderoga Club at Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St. NE W, Atlanta. 404-458-4534, ticonderogaclub.com.

97 Estoria, 727 Wylie St SE, Atlanta. 404-522-0966. 97estoria.com.

Shop-til-you-drop spot

“I have a ‘buy it nice or buy it twice’ philosophy,” Carse admitted. In other words, he’s not a big shopper. In fact, the minimalist bragged about recently buying two new pairs of pants, something he hadn’t done in a couple of years.

On an average day, he’s rocking his own “King of Pops” apparel whether it’s a T-shirt, pin or jacket. 

“Pre-Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, I’ve always been into having very few things I like a lot instead of having a lot of stuff,” he said.

When it is time to make a new purchase, he goes to Billy Reid, which has locations in the Westside Provisions District and The Shops at Buckhead. The fashion house is known for its luxury clothing, shoes and accessories.

His top shopping picks:

Billy Reid in Westside Provisions District, 1170 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta. 404-994-3144

Billy Reid at The Shops in Buckhead, 3029 Bolling Way NE, Atlanta. 470-881-8532, www.billyreid.com.

King of Pops Steven Carse. Photo: Garry Bowden.
Photo: HANDOUT

Social Hour

Carse is a huge pingpong fan. When he was kid, he could barely reach the table. But now he stands over 6 feet tall and his height is no longer a barrier. 

When he’s in the mood for a round of table tennis on a Saturday, Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium is a no-brainer. 

“If a friend is coming in to town or if I’m entertaining somebody, we usually go there at least to start the night,” he said.

To end the night, he might head to MJQ Concourse in the Poncey-Highland district. The high-energy club has guest deejays, dance parties and live music.

“It’s still really good. I’m not evolving at all,” he joked. “But when my fiance’s younger family members come to town and we’re trying to show them around, we’ve taken them there.”

His top party spot picks:

Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium, 466 Edgewood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-522-8276, sisterlouisaschurch.com.

MJQ Concourse, 736 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-870-0575, thedrunkenunicorn.net.

Grant Henry, a former seminary student and church deacon, owns CHURCH, named best themed bar in the world by BuzzFeed. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

The wind down

Watching an Atlanta United game is certainly a lively experience, but it’s also a relaxing one for Carse. He has season tickets. 

“It’s been awesome,” he said. “I really appreciate the energy behind it. Seeing people get excited about things happening in Atlanta gets me excited about things happening in Atlanta.”

When he’s not rooting for the United players at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you might see him practicing yoga at Tough Love Yoga or enjoying a worship service at Atlanta First United Methodist Church.

His top relax destinations:

Atlanta United games, 1 AMB Drive Northwest, Atlanta. 470-341-5000, atlutd.com.

Tough Love Yoga, 1530 DeKalb Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-919-1008, toughloveyoga.com.

Atlanta First United Methodist Church, 360 West Peachtree Street Northwest, Atlanta. 404-524-6614, atlantafirstumc.org.

Atlanta United players pose for a team photo as they take the field to play C.S. Herediano in their Concacaf Champions League soccer match on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Kennesaw. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Hidden gem

If you’re looking for a new soul food restaurant to try, Carse recommends Greens & Gravy.

The eatery offers menu items, such as lobster mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, and lemon pepper honey fried chicken.

“It’s a good spot that’s probably a little under the radar,” he said. “But they have really good food.”

Lottafrutta is also on his list. While the colorful, pint-size eatery may be known to most for its fresh fruit bowls, Carse said the grilled sandwiches are just as delicious. He usually loads his pavo del ocho sandwich with pepperocinis, tomatoes, pickles and banana peppers.

“I go there at least once a week, usually twice,” he said. “I love it there.” 

If you go:

Greens & Gravy Restaurant, 1540 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta. 404-565-2074, facebook.com/greensandgravy.

Lottafrutta, 590 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-588-0857, lottafrutta.com

» RELATED: Ice cream in Atlanta: Ice cream shops, frozen yogurt and more

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