Rabbit Hole Sweetshop

Last month, Rabbit Hole Market and Sweets quietly opened in Montavilla town at 414 SE 80th Ave. The shop occupies the former Hungry Heart Bakery space, made available after the restaurant relocated to SE Stark Street. Both businesses are the creation of Jax Hart, and the two locations work together to meet the varied appetites of customers throughout the day.

Hart quietly reopened the SE 80th shopfront on April 15th. Although covered in Bridgetown Bites, the opening was unpublicized, allowing staff time to work out the kinks in the shop’s operation and perfect the menu options. The first few weeks primarily focused on mastering the soft-serve ice cream machines that require an expert’s hand to operate. Rabbit Hole is now ready for customers but will continue to add products and features to the shop over the coming months.

Rabbit Hole staff are preparing for an expected busy summer season with more people out in the neighborhood looking for treats. “We’re [open] Thursday through Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and that’ll probably extend as we get into summer and see what time people are looking for the ice cream and sweets.” Said Hart. The two shops have a short overlap in operating hours but essentially split the day. Hungry Heart operates from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., serving the morning and lunchtime crowd. Rabbit Hole’s hours catch the afternoon and evening dessert seekers. That schedule allows Hart to balance their attention between the two establishments. “I kind of just go where I’m needed,” explained Hart.

The second location is more than a way to expand operations. Hart wants the Rabbit Hole to offer a different customer experience than the busy restaurant on Stark Street. Reopening in the original location is a way to reconnect with the roots of the business. “When we started, the intention was to just be a small neighborhood dessert shop and be a little bit more slower paced and low key. So our hope for this space was to have a little bit more time to engage with people,” said Hart. “It’s really been nice to welcome people into this space again.”

Hart moved the customer-pleasing Hungry Heart cupcakes and the macarons to the Rabbit Hole location. Over time, they expect to expand the confectionary options. However, Hart knew that the cold treats needed to be part of the new shop from day one. “We’re also doing soft serve ice cream because we had previously done Heartbreaker [ice cream shop], and people loved having ice cream in the neighborhood.”

Rabbit Hole features two soft serve machines, one of which is a dedicated non-dairy use. “So currently that machine has Oatly vegan vanilla and dole whip, which is a pineapple soft-serve,” explained Hart. As they settle in, Rabbit Hole staff will rotate flavors and begin to offer dipped cones with various toppings and sundaes.

Beyond Rabbit Hole’s display cases, staff have stocked shelves with a collection of packaged food items, books, and plants. Hart is working with suppliers from the area to provide a variety of market items to compliment the sweet shop. Hart explains that many people stopping in are picking up supplies for a celebration. “When people come in for cupcakes, it’s for a party, it’s for a gift, or it’s for a friend who just graduated.” The plants and other gift-able items make the shop a one-stop location for those looking to arrive at a party prepared. Soon the store will stock cards from local letterpress companies to complete the present giving collection that Rabbit Hole provides.

Hart expects to enhance the shop’s offerings beyond its products and menu. The indoor seating area will soon support a flexible teaching space for vendors who want to offer cooking classes. “We’ll be able to do these small, intimate neighborhood cooking classes and kids cooking classes.” Hart also explained the shop would soon gain outdoor seating. “We have an application in for a Healthy Business permit, which would be one of those seating areas that take up a parking spot, so we’re going to wait and see if we can either get a 20 foot or a 40 foot [space].”

Recently, staff have focused on setting the right environment for the shop and opening the doors to customers. After they complete the physical storefront, Hart said they will next work to open the website to the public. “We’ll have the menus on the website, and we’ll have an ordering page. [People can] order cupcakes online, and we’ll have an online store for all of the Market items.”

Christening the new location Rabbit Hole Market and Sweets is part of a larger project that began years ago but put on hold by the pandemic. Jax Hart revealed that the Stark street location would eventually change names in alignment with the original intention for the space. “We’re working on rebranding Hungry Heart to White Rabbit,” said Hart. However, they don’t expect to make that change soon, as the cost is not insignificant. Regardless of the timing, the relationship between the two shops will be unmistakable when they complete the rebranding process.

The public is encouraged to pop in and see what sweets or plants Rabbit Hole offers. Look for new items and events later this year and know that a cool sweet treat is just down the street on the coming warm days of summer.