Sorry, every Seattle neighborhood except Ballard and Capitol Hill: Salt and Straw just announced a third Washington ice cream shop location, and it’s all the way over in Kirkland.
Once I’m done pouting about it, I’ll admit: This is a big win for the Eastside ice cream scene, which has yet to get its own Frankie and Jo’s or Full Tilt…. Yes, Molly Moon's is holding it down in Bellevue and Redmond, and, I know, Ben and Jerry’s. I’m just saying. It's a big deal.
The Portland-based ice cream shop was launched by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek in 2011 and has been expanding up and down the West Coast ever since, first to California (it got its real Hollywood bona fides in 2019, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became an investor), then to Seattle in 2017. (Other neighborhoods should hold onto hope: "Washington has always felt like home" to Kim Malek, who lived here for years and assures me she's keeping her eye out for potential future locations in "Seattle or beyond.")
The new spot’s going into the Village at Totem Lake sometime this Spring, joining other iconic institutions like Ross Dress for Less and Nordstrom Rack. It'll serve Seattle-specific flavors—Beecher’s cheese with peppercorn toffee, Ellenos yogurt and matcha, Rachel’s raspberry ginger beer sorbet.
The ice-cream-at-a-mall thing is something of a trend: Salt and Straw already has an outpost at a monster shopping complex in San Diego, with plans for two more in San Jose and Florida (one of its first on the East Coast!). And it's not the only local-ish ice cream shop following shopping center crowds. Frankie and Jo’s, a Seattle-based vegan ice cream shop, recently announced its plans to open a shop at University Village; it’ll join Molly Moon’s, which has been there since 2013. If you’re somewhat generous with your definition of ice cream, Pressed Juicery’s vegan “freeze” is popping up in shopping centers from Westlake Center to the Lodge at Bellevue Square.
The benefits for shoppers are obvious (that sugar boost is a necessary evil for any three-hour Rack trip). And as many sound the traditional mall's bittersweet death knell, shopping centers that can still draw customers in—often with experience-based shopping and, relevantly, great local food—surely benefit from line-forming ice cream, too.