Four years and three months ago, my cousin Tyler and I rolled our little ice cream push cart onto the patio in front of Portland’s Aviary restaurant and Barista coffee shop on Alberta Street and started selling Salt & Straw ice cream. I was terribly excited and utterly terrified. Up until a few days before opening, we’d been doing everything ourselves. Tyler was making ice cream in the afternoons and going to culinary school at the same time. We knew that we were going to need some help and so we hired our first ice cream scooper, Neil Perry.
We met him at the Alberta Street Earth Day Clean Up Celebration a few months prior when we gave away the first tastes of our ice cream. Neil tried it and then came back to find out who we were. He explained, in his English accent (things always sound better with that accent), that he recently moved to Portland – we later found out to follow his passion for our new Timbers soccer team. He loved the ice cream and wanted to know if he could help us with anything. With his long red beard, soft voice and sincere enthusiasm, we knew we’d be lucky to work with him.
After awhile, he brought his equally amazing girlfriend Susannah to work with us and help open our first real scoop shop up the street. On opening day I was afraid no one would show up, so I only scheduled myself, Tyler, Neil and Susannah. It turned out to be pretty busy. We banded together and made it through. Neil caught the entrepreneurial bug and has since gone on to open his own art gallery up the street, Antler. He still helps us with design and projects from time to time. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about him and all of the other people we’ve gotten to work with over the past four years. There’ve been good times, hard times, great successes, and terrible mistakes, but through it all we’ve been surrounded by good people who have made this idea into more than I could ever have dreamt. I know that I’m better because of these people. I get out of bed every day with hopes of making them proud.
This past year, we’ve started a new chapter in our company’s history by opening our first shop outside of Portland. Hello, Los Angeles. Our shop is in Larchmont Village and we also have an ice cream kitchen downtown. Ian, who has helped open all of our scoop shops, moved there to tend to the shop and be sure our culture of taking good care of each other translated all of those hundreds of mile away. And Dave, who prior to making ice cream at our Portland kitchen was a nuclear submarine engineer (just the background you need to make ice cream!), also moved his family there to get our kitchen started, making sure every flavor we made was up to the same quality that made our ice cream famous in Portland. We hired a local team to work at the shop and brought them to Portland so they could see what we are about first hand. Throughout all of this, I could not be more proud of how our team pulled together.
Thank you to our communities and our team for supporting us. The past four years, for me, are about the opportunities that have been created, the achievements of the incredible people with whom we work and the happiness our team brings to our customers. This next chapter will be about a whole new round of positions within our company. We’ve posted about a dozen management and many other entry-level jobs recently in Portland and LA and we would love your help spreading the word. Take a look at the postings (https://saltstraw.hireology.com/careers) and if you know anyone who’d be a good fit, please let us know. We’d be honored to hear from you and your referrals will be in good hands (full health insurance benefits for all, including part-time folks, a robust paid-time-off and vacation program, an employee assistance program, disability insurance and three-months paid parental leave for new parents).
Founder and Head Ice Cream Scooper