One of Portland’s best vegan ice cream brands is opening a North Portland scoop shop. Kate’s Ice Cream, a dairy-and-gluten-free ice cream brand known for flavors like salted peanut butter brittle and rosewater cardamom almond, will open a new ice cream parlor in the space once home to Ruby Jewel.
In 2014, Katelyn Williams started making vegan ice cream for her sister, who couldn’t eat dairy. Williams moved to Portland in late 2017 and, after a year of recipe-testing, started to make pints of cashew- and coconut-based ice creams to sell at farmers markets and deliver to homes around Portland. She used Stahlbush Island Farms Marionberries for a Marionberry cobbler ice cream, made her own cashew milk for flavors like triple chocolate brownie and vanilla, and infused coconut milk with Oregon-grown mint oil for her mint chocolate fudge. “I felt like there was still an opportunity to create a great vegan ice cream,” Williams says. “We just want to make ice cream for everyone, one that works for everyone.”
Within a matter of months, the buzz around Williams’ ice creams began to spread within the vegan and gluten-free circles in Portland, and she began scooping ice cream out of her commissary space on NE Sandy. While the makeshift courtyard scoop shop was a hit, she was still limited in what she was able to do: The space wasn’t large enough to expand her ice cream offerings, and there was no real indoor seating during the cooler months. She began looking for a space in early January, and, in a matter of months, found something that worked well: The former Ruby Jewel space on Mississippi. “Ruby Jewel, during the pandemic, decided to focus on their amazing ice cream sandwiches, closed up their shops, and Lisa (Herlinger, the owner of Ruby Jewel) has spent some time mentoring me,” Williams says. “It’s a beautiful opportunity for Kate’s ... I’m really proud to be able to be serving ice cream to the community they have served for over a decade now.”
In the new ice cream shop, Williams will expand her offerings from the core seven flavors, with a wider swath of seasonal flavors, coconut sugar-sweetened ice creams, and a toppings bar complete with things like house-made Oreo-style crumbles. Williams often collaborates with Portland-area chefs and artisans on seasonal flavors, like snickerdoodle cookie cone made with Ground Up cinnamon snickerdoodle nut butter or lemon balm hibiscus with Hibisbloom’s mint hibiscus syrup. At the new shop, she hopes to open up more opportunities for those sorts of collaborations, both in terms of ice cream specials and frozen desserts — for instance, Williams recently collaborated with the vegan pop-tart pop-up Toast’d for a pop tart ice cream sandwich.
Williams hopes to open the new scoop shop in the fall; until then, Portlanders can find Kate’s Ice Cream at the weekend scoop shop, located 2636 NE Sandy Blvd, or on New Seasons shelves. Kate’s Ice Cream will be located at 3713 N Mississippi Avenue.