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.
Dedicating themselves to the unique pleasures of a cup of freshly roasted, skillfully brewed joe, Broadway Coffeehouse's baristas stay local, using beans from renowned Portland roaster Stumptown Coffee and stacking the display case with pastries from Salem's Great Harvest Bread Co.
The Oregonian aromas of the specialty brews and warm desserts fill the spacious café, whose expansive windows and crackling fireplace bathe the cushy couches and armchairs in natural light. A second-floor skyway overlooks the main seating area, and youngsters frolic in a family area while older people talk business in private conference rooms. In the warmer months, guests sit outdoors under the shade of patio umbrellas, safe from the sun's periodic spills of scalding-hot coffee.
The java geniuses at He Brews Coffee & Cafe prep a menu of delectable drinks as well as plates of breakfast and lunch eats. Warm up a body still chilly from vacationing in a lunar crater with a cup of house java ($1.25+), a latte or a mocha ($2.25+), or a selection from the shop's assortment of teas ($1.25+). Refreshing a.m. eats are served throughout the day, including options such as the egg scramble paired with an organic potato pancake and organic toast ($8.95). During lunchtime, diners dive into turkey paninis wrapped with cranberries and cream cheese ($9.95) or sandwiches bursting with barbecue pulled chicken or beef, chicken breasts, or vegan and veggie options ($7.95). Fruit smoothies ($3.50) and soy-almond hemp-milk smoothies ($4) can, like a favorite neighbor's car, be doused with rich tropical-fruit combos such as kiwi-banana or mango-mandarin.
When the nonprofit Culture Shock Community project kept struggling to find suitable spaces to host their free events, they decided to create their own. At Clockworks Cafe & Cultural Center, baristas decants cups of Stumptown Coffee, Smith Tea, and housemade teas seven days a week. Meanwhile, their culinary team crafts sandwiches, salads, and seasonal soups alongside handmade baked goods from Marsee Bakery. An exposed-brick interior and two feature walls exhibiting artwork infuse the space with a gallery-like ambiance. Along with drinks and treats, the café entices guests with events every month such as live music, open mics, a belly-dance showcase, and craft nights, where visitors can use coffee and beads to make a wet hot bead. Clockworks' uses all its proceeds to fund Culture Shock Community Projects such as the Live Interactive Performance Series of Salem.