Salt & Straw Charts Holiday Landing in Old Town

Published : Wednesday, November 20, 2019 | 6:20 PM

In the case of Salt & Straw it really is all in the name.

Salt & Straw doesn’t sound like an ice cream store, but the first time someone told you your caramel ice cream would have a savory kick you weren’t too thrilled.

That sea salt and caramel concoction was just the beginning of sodium’s foray into sugar’s world and Salt & Straw, which is opening Nov. 22, at 39 West Colorado Boulevard in Old Town, is one business to run with the idea another length or so.

“Taste-provoking” is a term often applied to the ice cream maker. Black Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese, Salted Malted Chocolate Chip Chip Cookie Dough are types of provocative, evocative flavors that have powered the company into the San Gabriel Valley.

The new locale, in the heart of Old Town, joins Salt & Straw outposts in Los Angeles including one each in the Arts District, Larchmont Village, Studio City, Venice, and Hollywood.

“Pasadena has a rich history, charm and warmth that is evident to both visitors and residents alike, and we hope to capture that same feeling with our scoop shop,” said Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Kim Malek in a press statement heralding the grand opening.

The artisan behind the art that is Salt & Straw is Tyler Malek, whose sustainability bona fides include working with local products and a menu that is 20 percent vegan.

It is the creamery’s practice to rotate monthly themes such as the one which will kicking off the Old Town grand opening, “A Thanksgiving Celebration.”

The series is intended to evoke memories of the home-cooked holiday meal, including flavors such as Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecans, Roasted Peach & Sage Cornbread Stuffing, and so on.

And here’s a friendly reminder we are discussing ice cream here.

Portland-based Osmose Design, together with Kim and Tyler, have created a 1,479-square foot space that melds modern with nostalgia, like the ice cream, which almost always triggers nostalgia, but here with flavors born of the moment.

Those flavors are served on freshly made waffle cones or in pints that can be ordered online through Postmates for later pick up. Scoops, shakes, sundaes, and floats are all a part of the repertoire.

The design elements include curved oaked edges, a parquet wood inlay, terrazzo flooring and bespoke abstract waffle cones, because there is nothing more modern than abstraction.

And there’s a window bar from which one can watch Pasadena flow to and fro.

The company was founded in 2011 by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek in Portland, Ore.

Given its roots in the northwest liberal enclave known as “Portlandia,” it should not come as a surprise that Salt & Straw strives to be a good business-citizen through engagement in issues such as childhood hunger and equal rights.

“Salt & Straw expands this ongoing commitment to its new neighborhood Pasadena and is poised to be a welcoming gathering place for locals and visitors year-round,” the statement said.

The ice cream concern will open just in time to capture holiday traffic and it is not alone in its quest.

“If you like ice cream in December, we have it,” said Steven Mulheim, chief executive officer and president, Old Pasadena Management District.

He noted that, in addition to Salt & Straw, Wanderlust and 21 Choices are two other, recent cold sweet treat additions to Old Town’s commercial landscape.

21 choices actually shuttered their old location at Colorado Boulevard and DeLacey Avenue for a relocation to Fair Oaks Avenue and Union Street, according to Mulheim.

“They are some new restaurant locations opening up on Union,” he pointed out. “They are creating a little food court, which isn’t the right word because they are small, independent brick and mortar locations. Some used to be food trucks.”

Let’s call it a “streetscape mall.”

Space MK, a luxury beauty products company, he noted, recently opened at Colorado and DeLacey. “That has gotten a good bit of attention.”

So, while there’s no denying that commercial real estate just before the Christmas season is active, it is not necessarily a standout phenomenon.

“There’s kind of a constant flow,” said Mulheim. “We have 300 first floor retail and restaurant businesses so there is always something coming and going.”

Eric Duyshart, the City of Pasadena’s Economic Development Manager, concurred, saying, “the holidays are typically a target date for retailers and restaurants. They want to make sure they capture that holiday season of buying.”

It is nothing new, he said, for businesses to aim for an end of third quarter, fall opening so as to be in place for the season of giving.

“I think that’s highlighted in Pasadena a bit more,” said Duyshart. “You have the parade and all the visitors that come out toward the end of the year. There’s an interest in being ready for them.”

Salt & Straw Pasadena 39 West Colorado Boulevard. Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., daily., (626) 304-0303.

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