Salt & Straw's at the front of the line
Kim and Tyler Malek are no strangers to Lake Oswego.
The founders of Salt & Straw Ice Cream have created a small empire of popular scoop shops, serving up hand-crafted frozen treats across Portland and other West Coast cities since 2011. For the past three years, they've teased local residents with appearances at the farmers market and a cart in the old Wizer Block parking lot.
But this week, the teasing's over.
On Friday, the cousins who flipped the ice cream industry on its head will officially open their fourth Portland-area scoop shop in The Windward, downtown Lake Oswego's new mixed-use development at the corner of A Avenue and First Street.
To celebrate the opening, they'll offer $1 scoops from a cart in front of the store from 6-8 p.m. Thursday. The preview, which will benefit the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, will feature four flavors that speak to the company's reputation for using creative ingredients: Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, Roasted Strawberry & Coconut (vegan) and Wildflower Honey with Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies.
It's all part of Salt & Straw's first foray into the suburbs, a move Kim Malek says has been a long time in the making.
"It's quite an honor really. We've been dreaming and working on this for three years," she said. "We knew we wanted to be part of (The Windward), so we've been patiently waiting. But we're so excited it's finally time. We have three stores in Portland, and we're not going to open a whole bunch more, so to be able to come to communities that are a great fit for us is really exciting."
Malek believes she's found that fit in Lake Oswego; it's a tight-knit community, she says, with families — young and old — that share a love for their town and for their neighbors.
"What's really important to us is being part of great neighborhoods and strong communities where we can partner with organizations like the Schools Foundation and provide a gathering place for people," she says. "(The Windward) felt like it was really aspiring to be that in Lake Oswego.
"If you go out to the suburbs around Portland, there aren't a lot of projects like this, so it's really special in terms of providing that community with a gathering place in a way that's walkable or where you might run into your neighbors," Malek says. "You can hang out with people you went to school with, or your family. That's what I love about this project, and it's really unique from that perspective."
Salt & Straw turned to one of its longtime collaborators to design the Lake Oswego space: Marylhurst alum Andee Hess of Portland-based Osmose Design. Each of Salt & Straw's scoop shops is tailored to its location, and Hess says she took downtown Lake Oswego's "village aesthetic" — as well as the corner store's wall-to-wall windows — into account as she worked on her plans.
"All of the materials and patterning we used are custom-designed textures and graphics that we've worked with artisans to develop. That definitely ties into that local, village aesthetic," Hess says. "There are hand-stenciled walls throughout the space, rather than using a wallpaper, because it gives it a more crafted feeling. That's an important part of the brand, because its all hand-crafted, hand-scooped, hand-packed products."
For Tyler Malek, Friday's opening will come full circle with Salt & Straw's connection to Lake Oswego. He says he's excited to offer the company's "May Flowers" seasonal menu, which focuses heavily on floral flavors and features collaborations with two local companies: Steven Smith Teas and Heart Coffee.
"I'm just thrilled. It seems like the perfect menu to be opening with. It's more or less the same seasonal we opened up the Lake Oswego cart with at the very beginning, so it's like destiny is coming together," he says. "For me, my dream is to take part in the amazing stories going on across this city, and that means working with different partners in Lake Oswego and throughout the greater Portland area and highlighting them in individual scoops of ice cream. I think that's what makes our flavors unique, and what keeps us having fun."
Salt & Straw's Lake Oswego shop is located at 100 A Ave.; beginning Friday, hours will be 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. For more information, call 503-305-8267 or visit www.saltandstraw.com.
HERE'S THE SCOOP
What: Salt & Straw Ice Cream opens its new Lake Oswego shop
When: The store officially opens to the public at 11 a.m. Friday, May 4
Where: 100 A Ave., at the corner of A Avenue and First Street in the new Windward mixed-use development
But first: The company will be offering $1 scoops from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, May 3, from a cart in front of the shop. Flavors include Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, Roasted Strawberry & Coconut (vegan) and Wildflower Honey with Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies
Note: Proceeds from the Thursday-night celebration will benefit the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation
More information: Call 503-305-8267 starting Friday, or visit www.saltandstraw.com