Given Central Texas' surfeit of balmy days, a store selling customizable artisan frozen pops seemed like a good idea. Still, barely two years after debuting in on Guadalupe Street, the Alabama-based chain Steel City Pops is putting the freeze on its last Austin location.
In a November 1 release, the chain announced the closing of its remaining local shop, as well as eight additional stores across Texas, a brick-and-mortar in Atlanta, and a food truck in owner Jim Watkins' hometown of Birmingham. The concept said that scaling back was necessary in order to maintain a “healthy, growing business.”
Steel City first entered the Capital City market in September 2017 with the location at 3001 Guadalupe St., next door to Changos Taqueria, which will also shutter on November 14. In April 2018, it opened another store in the Domain Northside's Rock Rose district. That store closed this past summer.
In 2018, the company majorly expanded in Texas with locations popping up in San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Waco. As of the November 1 closures, only five stores remain operating in the state, all in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The locations served a menu of gourmet, paleta-style popsicles in flavors like chocolate, peach cream, horchata, cucumber lime, and cantaloupe. Steel City also allowed patrons to customize the treats with by dipping, drizzling, and dredging the pops in a variety of sauces and toppings.
Unlike similar ice cream chains, Steel City differentiated itself by working with local vendors and farmers. Instead of a company-wide menu, it developed pops specific to the regions it served.
Future plans, however, may bring Steel City back into Austin . Although the company did not gave full details, it said that it is actively pursuing alternatives to the brick-and-mortar model, including vending machines and wholesale opportunities.