Sure, Marc Wheeler was a city Assembly member for two terms in the early 2000s. But this local Jack-of-all-trades has a new business venture up his sleeve —and it involves rhubarb.
Wheeler announced Thursday his plans to open Coppa, a homemade ice cream, coffee and tea shop he owns with his wife, Jessica Paris. It’ll also feature locally baked treats. The store will be located at 917 Glacier Ave. and will open in mid-September.
Wheeler, a self-taught cook, said opening a restaurant has been his dream for about 10 years. He’s most excited to highlight local ingredients in his ice cream flavors, he said. This is especially apparent in his homemade rhubarb sherbet, he said, which he’ll sell at the shop. The sherbet gained a bit of notoriety when he was selling it at Food Truck Fridays this summer — Wheeler said some people claimed it was addictive.
“I pick the rhubarb, and I use real cream and real sugar,” Wheeler said. “People have highly nostalgic associations with rhubarb. The sherbet really brings that out.”
Wheeler said Coppa will feature the standard chocolate and vanilla, but other, funkier flavors will be cycled through on a regular basis. He recently whipped up batches of Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter brownie ice cream and nagoonberry sherbet.
“We’ll be introducing new ice cream flavors that might be surprising for some people,” he said. His personal favorite? Bacon pecan.
The shop will also serve coffee and tea, two more of Wheeler’s passions. The store’s name, Coppa, means “cup” in Italian. Italy, where he lived twice during college, was the place Wheeler first discovered his love of cooking.
“I fell deeply in love with Italian life,” Wheeler explained. “They know how to enjoy good food and good company.”
He’s hoping his family’s new store will be equally hospitable. They’re currently sprucing the place up to make it “welcoming but also easy on the eye,” he said. Local yellow cedar is being used in the decor. Work on the store, located next to Seong’s Sushi Bar, has been going on for about three months, he said.
“When I first learned about this space being open, it immediately grabbed my imagination,” he said.
Wheeler said Coppa couldn’t be a more perfect project for him.
“It’s right in the neighborhood I love, in the community I love, making people happy with food and drinks,” he said.
• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.