Salt and Straw ice cream shop in Portland, Oregon – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Joshua Rainey Photography
A little over a decade since opening an ice cream cart in Portland, Oregon, Tyler and Kim Malek have created a small frozen treat empire that stretches across the U.S.
Kim and Tyler Malek, who are also cousins, are the co-founders of Salt & Straw.
“We had this dream of creating space for people to get together,” Tyler Malek said. “They get to meet their friends and neighbors, learn about the food around them, and we curate it that way—providing an experience for people.”
The duo felt that ice cream was the perfect thing to bring people from all over together.
“We realized really quickly that an ice cream shop is this really cool community gathering place where you can come as you are, regardless of how you look, what your political viewpoints are, what your food preferences are—there’s always something to (make you) feel welcomed at an ice cream shop,” Tyler Malek said.
On top of bringing people closer together, the Maleks hope to get those same people talking and aware of the world that surrounds them.
“A really great example is like two years ago. We worked with nonprofits up and down the west coast to talk about food waste,” Tyler Malek said. “And we had flavors that were made with foods that were about to get thrown away—like 3-day-old bread or grains from a brewery that was going to get tossed. All these things, we were able to play with—fun, interesting ingredients that cause people to kind of stop and ask, “How did you do that? Why did you do that?’ And it provokes this conversation in a really safe space around (a) really, really interesting and delicious flavor.”
Recently, Salt & Straw opened its Central Florida location at the bustling Disney Springs retail, dining, and entertainment complex. Tyler Malek said it is important to find the perfect Florida flavors to incorporate into Salt & Straw’s unique ice cream.
“We have to find those fun stories also in Florida, and we have to infuse those into our flavors,” he said. “So finding farmers that are doing guava. We’re always working with local coffee roasters—like really kind of figuring out how do we take our foundation, our philosophy of using flavor and making flavor and actually allow that region to inform us and guide us.”
Salt & Straw has worked with the Walt Disney Company in the past at the company’s Disneyland park in Anaheim, California. He said he is ecstatic to join Disney Springs, as it has become a food lover’s dream destination.
“Disney Springs is, it’s wild,” Malek said. “(Disney has) made this, like, concerted effort to lean into becoming a food experience. And you can even see how many new restaurants are opening in Disney Springs. It’s really bonkers.”
In the most recent episode of ‘Florida Foodie,’ Tyler Malek speaks about developing Salt & Straw’s funky and unique flavors, including a brand new fried chicken flavor. He also speaks about how his company gained the opportunity to partner up with Disney and develop an ice cream subscription service.
“Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it, and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.”
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Born and raised in South Florida, Krystal is a recent graduate from the University of Miami with professional writing experience at the collegiate and national news outlet levels. She’s a foodie who loves all things travel, the beach, & visiting new places throughout Florida.