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.
Tea aficionados at Momma Honey and the Princess brew up pots of Intelligentsia loose-leaf tea and coffee to serve alongside pastries crafted at local bakeries. Pinkies protrude over high tea as pairs of guests share pots of elixir brewed from loose leaves or roasted beans harvested from sustainable small farms around the world and brewed with local water. Discuss teatime topics, sharing opinions on world politics or the boiling point of water between mouthfuls of sandwiches, savory cream puffs, and scones. Alternatively, customers can present a punch card and caffeinate with 10 12-ounce Intelligentsia loose-leaf tea and coffee drinks of their choice, served in compostable cups that amateur farmers can use to fertilize and grow their own coffee-shop plants.
Ever since Growl Movement opened, a rotating selection of craft beers, hard ciders, and kombucha teas have flowed freely through its taps. The various beverages are crafted at breweries around the Northwest, and most can't be found in a grocery store—normally, you'd have to journey to the breweries themselves to buy a supply for your home. The shop sells half-gallon growlers, quarter-gallon growlettes, pints, and taster portions. Growlers can be reused again and again with a quick wash between fills.
As the demand for local produce continues to grow, The Chocolate Box has taken the next step and emphasized local confections. The storefront’s shelves feature products from a Who’s Who of Seattle chocolatiers and winemakers, including milk chocolate from Fran’s, vegan chocolate from Theo, sugar-free chocolate from Spokandy, waterlogged chocolate from orca pod 245, and chocolate wine from Walla Walla vineyard Chocolate Shop. Borrowing a concept from local-produce gurus, the staff wants customers to feel as informed as possible about the products they purchase, so they schedule informative events such as truffle-making workshops, hot-chocolate tastings, and wine-and-chocolate tours around the city.