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, and boutique wines from the northwest wine region. 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 experiences in the city.
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.
IKE Box inhabits the ground floor of a 120-year-old downtown building whose spacious ballroom now serves as the main seating area of the café. Baristas serve Sisters Coffee Company coffee and espresso alongside locally produced pastries, fresh hummus, and organic cookies. For added color, an onsite art gallery swaps in fresh works from community artists each month. IKE Box also has multiple large spaces for meetings and other get-togethers.
Committed to helping not just coffee drinkers and artists but the community as well, IKE Box is run by Isaac’s Room, a nonprofit youth organization that seeks to provide valuable life skills and training to divested youth.