Though architectural flourishes once called attention to their Gilded Age opulence, these days the entrance and lobby of the historic Cook’s Hotel bear the egalitarian trappings of a turn-of-the-century ice-cream parlor. These welcoming sights are just one part of Serendipity Ice Cream’s core mission. Operating as a division of Mid-Valley Rehabilitation—a nonprofit dedicated to providing employment, residential, and transportation services to adults with disabilities—the parlor gives the center’s clients the chance to get real-world work experience and independence. Here, staffers scoop 24 classic and seasonal flavors of Oregon-made ice cream into handmade waffle cones, sundaes, floats, shakes, and banana splits. Sugar-free ice cream and dairy-free sorbets attend to special diets alongside treats such as soups and made-from-scratch cookies baked fresh daily. In addition to the sky-high cones and friendly service, old-fashioned candy, glass-bottled retro sodas, and teenagers who settle their differences by dancing add to the parlor’s period feel.
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