Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now

The Mix: Soft serve has its soft launch in the Benewah Milk Bottle

The Mix co-owner Ross Carper, center, holds up a sweet treat as he is flanked by Omari Byaruhanga, left, and Avery Steer on Friday outside the Benewah Milk Bottle, 321 Cedar St., in Spokane.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Megan Dhein For The Spokesman-Review

Ross Carper and Ibrahim Mohamed returned dairy to the Benewah Milk Bottle on June 6 by opening the Mix, a dessert shop which offers soft serve ice cream, and is open from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

“We are keeping it pretty simple,” Carper said. “We envision people coming out for dessert or maybe going out for ice cream after school to enjoy some really classic, basic soft serve-based treats, like ice cream cones.”

Treats include on a soft serve cone – plain, with toppings, or dipped – or the “ice storm” which is thick soft serve with a variety of mix-ins, including peanut brittle created by Mohamed. The treat takes its name from the 1996 ice storm in Spokane. Other confections and goodies Mohamed makes will also be for sale. He was a confectioner in Egypt and Sudan.

The Mix only occupies the “milk bottle” portion of the space; Blue Door Theatre, an improv comedy space, will continue to occupy the rest.

Carper is the co-founder and co-executive director of Feast World Kitchen, and Mohamed is a board member, and Carper was excited to see Blue Door Theatre come into the neighborhood.

“They approached us about whether we had anyone who is interested in some sort of like coffee, concessions, or dessert concepts that could utilize the tiny space,” Carper said.

The Mix is not connected to Feast World Kitchen, nor is it a nonprofit, but a portion of their sales will go to helping those displaced by the conflicts in Sudan. Mohamed is from the area originally and moved to Spokane in 2013.

“One of the things that Ibrahim and I are personally excited about is having this be an entry level job opportunity,” Carper said. “… He’s really connected to the Sudanese community in Spokane, and often folks who are newer arrivals or young people need a job.”

The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, hasn’t sold dairy products in nearly 50 years. Mimetic literalism is when something advertises what it sells. In 1935, architecture firm Whitehouse and Price designed the building – as well as the milk bottle building in Garland – for Paul E. Newport, owner and operator of the Benewah Creamery Co. The Milk Bottle on Garland was designed and built for the same purpose.

“So he basically was like, why wouldn’t we have architecture that also acted as kind of a billboard and as an attraction to have people come in,” said Megan Duvall, city of Spokane historic preservation officer.

In 1978, the shop closed and was vacant for some time, Duvall said. Since then, it’s had a wide array of tenants unrelated to dairy – children’s physical and speech therapy, a cellphone retailer, an architect’s office, a barbershop, office for Spokane County Democratic Central Committee – until the Mix returned it to its original purpose.

“The one on Garland (is a) restaurant,” Duvall said. “I mean, they’re sort of known for their milkshakes and stuff like that, but I think this one will really be the only piece of this kind of novelty architecture that actually is housing what it was intended to be used for in the beginning.”