Local Dessert Favorite Opens Its Second Location In Roanoke, Virginia
In a remodeled trailer in Forest, Virginia, Jordan Nickerson and his wife Holly Nickerson opened their ice cream sandwich business Rookie’s in spring 2017.
Four years later, they opened their second location April 16, in Roanoke, Virginia, an hour away from the original location.
Determined to expand their business and demographic, the young couple took a leap of faith and decided to open the second location of the ice cream sandwich business at the historic Patrick Henry Building in downtown Roanoke. This was more than just expanding for Nickerson. He said he wanted to use this second location to test the limits on his young business.
“Roanoke was a test for us,” Nickerson said. “One, could we do something in a city where we didn’t know anyone? Two, could we do something in a city that wasn’t primarily a college town? (Three), did families like what we sold or did they not?”
The Nickerson’s wanted to create an atmosphere that was family friendly, because he was concerned that families felt out of place with such a high college student presence at Rookie’s. The Roanoke location is becoming a true testament that their product is the key to their success, and it’s not just the hype made by the college students. The Nickersons are achieving their goal of reaching the family demographic in Roanoke.
The new location in The Patrick Henry Building is completely indoors, but the business has a side window for customers to order and receive their food without having to go inside. While the goal wasn’t necessarily to have a completely indoor shop, Nickerson made sure to keep the relaxed, easygoing feel that Rookie’s is known for.
When Rookie’s was initially opened in Forest, Nickerson intended to make the business his internship after graduating from college and use it as a resume builder for future jobs. Despite those initial plans for Rookie’s, he has since realized this can be a thriving business for years to come, one that can financially support his family.
“It was a hands-on experience, learning something I wasn’t getting in the classroom,” Nickerson said. “I’m not a classroom person, so I need some hands-on experience,” Nickerson said. We started it to learn. It wasn’t to make money. It wasn’t for clout. We just wanted to learn. We wanted the experience.”
On grand opening night, they sold out in a matter of hours. Expecting just support from family and friends, they were surprised that people they didn’t know showed up. They quickly realized that they had to increase their production immediately.
In starting Rookie’s, the Nickerson’s wanted to create an atmosphere that would entice people to hangout. To help create that atmosphere, they knew it was important to provide a great product, so they make fresh cookies each day and update their ice cream flavors every month.
“We craved a place to just go and hangout that was clean and cool, especially at night,” Nickerson said.
After three years of success, including a pandemic-ridden 2020, they opened a more permanent fixture in Forest that had a full kitchen and front end to sell their product. This new building gave them the courage to continue expanding into the new Roanoke location.
Despite the opening being so recent, the 26-year-old founder of Rookie’s says the second location is very popular and gives them confidence to continue growing the business.
Kevin Gora is the Assistant News Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @kevgora.