Salt & Straw co-founder says ‘I can’t be here’ if Portland HQ employees aren’t safe


Portland’s iconic ice cream company, Salt & Straw, may be moving its headquarters from Southeast Portland due to frustration over crime, drugs and street camping, co-founder Kim Malek said Wednesday.

On Monday, a fire engulfed an RV parked on Southeast 3rd Avenue and Ash Street near the company’s headquarters, knocking out power to Salt & Straw and several other businesses after the fire knocked down a transformer.

Malek said, “If we can’t make it safe, I can’t stay here.” “It is not my responsibility to put my team in that position.”

On Tuesday, musician and civic advocate Thomas Lauderdale emailed headquarters about the fire and other issues with two dozen community leaders at Portland City Hall. Multnomah recently heard someone point a gun at the head of a Salt & Straw employee. Oregon County and Congressional Delegation.

Lauderdale wrote, “Their lease expires in April, and while it would cost millions and millions to move them, they are at a breaking point and planning to leave the state.” “It’s less of a homelessness problem; This is a matter of health, public safety and medicine. The schizophrenia we see, the violence, the fires… it is fueled by drugs and needs to be addressed immediately.

Malek, who co-founded the Portland company with her cousin Tyler Malek, said she would like to work with elected leaders to find solutions. “It’s really hard for a lot of people right now,” she said. “I’m not here to point the finger. I want to be part of the solution.

She’s particularly interested in helping cut off Portland’s supply of drugs because they fuel crime, she said. “It is our intention to get through this,” she said. “I can’t stay here if we don’t.”

Also read  Automation helps this company inspire its employees and customers to be more resourceful

Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle also received the email from Lauderdale, though he said he didn’t know Malek. Columbia Sportswear said this fall it will move its Sorel brand from its downtown Portland offices to its parent company’s Washington County campus early next year.

“I’m not surprised,” Boyle said Wednesday of Salt & Straw’s possible move, citing the difficult retail environment in Portland. “it is a challenge.”

Other businesses close to Salt & Straw share their concerns. Jason Bolt, owner of Reverend Optics — a nearby manufacturer — testified at City Hall on Nov. 3, saying his employees feel unsafe to go to work. Bolt also threatened to leave the area.

“If the city doesn’t take care of its citizens and create a safe place for businesses to operate, then we’ll go elsewhere,” Bolt said. “We have to look out for the safety of our teams.”

Firefighters were working on Southeast Third Avenue and Ashe Street around 2:30 a.m. Monday. No nearby buildings were damaged by the fire, but the RV was a “total loss,” said Sean Whalen, a fire department spokesman.

Whelan said the fire department has not yet determined what started the fire.

– Catalina Gaitan, [email protected]@catalingaitan_

—Austin DeDios [email protected]; (503) 319-9744




Leave a Comment