April Eklund, whose family owns Sellwood's Jade Bistro and Patisserie, is launching her own venture this summer, and she's aiming to take the self-serve fro-yo concept to the next level.
With The Maple Parlor, which will go into the Swirl frozen yogurt space on SE Hawthorne, Eklund will offer a self-serve, soft-serve sundae bar that's inclusive of all dietary restrictions, whether you're gluten-free, paleo, vegan, diabetic, or just want to keep the artificial colors and flavors to a minimum. "Everyone can eat at our place, and it's decadent, too," says Eklund.
The eight soft serves will all be made in house, and will include a browned butter, full-fat ice cream, a dairy-free coconut option, one that's stevia-sweetened, and traditional tart frozen yogurt. "We're still in discussion with who will be our dairy provider, but it'll definitely be organic," Eklund says.
She's partnering with other purveyors to source some of the toppings for the sundae bar, including fresh fruit from local orchards and farms, gluten-free brownie bites from Kyra's Bakeshop in Lake Oswego, and stevia-sweetened chocolate from Lily's Chocolate in Seattle. "It's awesome because nobody knows it's stevia chocolate."
Swirl will remain open until she's ready to take over, hopefully by May 20. Then she plans to transform the space and give it an old-fashioned, 1920s carnival theme vibe. "Our inspiration is Farrell's ice cream parlor," she says. "We want it to be a very nostalgic experience."
To make it all happen, she launched a Kickstarter this week, complete with a "spoon club," and will have a free vaudeville-themed kickoff dance party at Oaks Park on Friday April 24 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will be a photo booth, live music from Trash Can Joe, merchandise and samples. Dressing up is highly encouraged. Check The Maple Parlor's Facebook page for details.
If all goes well, Eklund expects to have The Maple Parlor up and running by July 1, offering "sundaes for everyone" just in time for the hottest days of summer. "You feel twice as a good a parent when you can say ‘I didn't give them junk and they loved it.' I hope this becomes the revolution. A treat doesn't need to be Froot Loops."
The Maple Parlor (opening July 1), 3538 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland