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.
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.
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.
Mike Mungra and Mike Warren started Froyo Nation with the goal of elevating the quality of frozen yogurt available in the Salem area. To that end, they curate fresh, locally made Oregon yogurt and fruit to create fresh, frozen desserts. As enticing aromas fill the air from coexisting business Daynight Donuts’ freshly baked treats, self-serve machines churn out eight flavors of creamy, nutritious frozen yogurt. Staff members watch over a toppings bar brimming with more than 70 toppings, including granola, candies, and strawberries, that help conceal frozen yogurt peaks from the pokes of inquisitive spoons.
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.