Salt and Straw CEO considering moving headquarters, says ‘I can’t go on like this’

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 9:49 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - An iconic Portland ice cream company is considering moving its headquarters out of Southeast Portland, after dealing with increasing crime.

“I moved to Portland specifically to start this company because Salt and Straw has to be a part of Portland. It’s part of our soul. I love this city,” Salt and Straw CEO Kim Malek, said.

In the last week, she said her employees have felt unsafe at work, especially after she said an RV blew up outside of their office on Southeast Second Avenue on Monday.

“Unfortunately, it also caught the transformer on fire, so power was out throughout the entire neighborhood,” Malek said. “Luckily none of our team members were physically hurt but as you can imagine it was extremely traumatizing.”

Last Friday, she said one of her employees had a scary encounter walking into work.

“One of our other team members was held at gunpoint with a gun in their face,” she said.

She said drug use is only exacerbating the safety problems they’re dealing with in the area and said she’s optimistic city, state and federal leaders can work together to address this systematic issue.

“Our streets are being flooded with meth and fentanyl and there’s a way we can address that, but our city and county and state and federal and police enforcement all have to come together to stop the flow of these drugs,” she said. “It would help all of Portland and help the populations being victimized by these drugs as well.”

Malek said she’s been talking to the city for years now about safety issues to no avail, but said she made headway this week after going to city hall. She hopes to come up with a solution so they can stay put because they haven’t made any final decisions to leave.

“I’m not packing my bags I’m just letting folks know that I can’t go on like this. I just say this over and over it’s just not responsible for me as a business owner for my employees,” Malek said.

Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office said in a statement that members of the mayor’s team have been in contact with businesses that lost power and those with concerns about safety.

“My team and I are actively working to offer our support to impacted businesses. This SE neighborhood is a work-in-progress as we work to remove garbage, unsanctioned campsites, and vehicles/RVs. This incident demonstrates further the need for safe, monitored, designated camping sites,” Wheeler said.