Kennewick's Sandstone Cafe adds ice cream business

KENNEWICK — There’s a new storefront opening in downtown Kennewick and its offerings will be creamy, chilly and oh, so sweet on the tongue.

James Ortega, owner of Sandstone Cafe, is adding Creamery to his restaurant’s name and opening an ice cream shop next month.

He’s leased the former T-shirt store next to the cafe from Mark and Todd Jones, who own the building and also run a comedy club around the corner. He also leases the cafe building from the enterprising duo.

There’s a connecting door between the cafe and creamery. Each business also will have its own front door off First Avenue.

Ortega’s target date for opening the creamery is March 1. The equipment is in place, the health and building inspections are moving along and two of Ortega’s friends, John Bucko and Pastor Lee Moses, are busy painting fun ice cream-themed murals on the walls.

He has no plans to make his own ice cream. Instead he’ll be stocking ice cream produced by Cascade Glacier Ice Cream, a family-owned company out of Eugene, Ore., and ice cream made at the Country Mercantile store on Highway 395 outside Pasco.

“We used to sell Country Mercantile’s ice cream at our other location on Washington Street but when we moved here (104 W. First Ave) we didn’t have any space for ice cream. So I’m really happy we’re expanding,” Ortega said. “I’m all about supporting local products and (the Mercantile’s) ice cream is superb.”

He plans to sell all the usual soda fountain treats plus something for families and large groups to share.

“It’s going to be an oversize bowl holding scoops of six or 12 different flavors and all the toppings,” Ortega said, explaining he saw something similar on a menu from an ice cream shop on Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco.

“That ran about $40. Ours will be cheaper,” he said.

The creamery will have space to seat 40 to 50 people. Plus there will be a small raised platform in one corner for performances — clowns, magicians, children’s karaoke.

He also plans to add a couple of flat-screen televisions and a pull down projector to the creamery side so groups can use it for meetings before it opens for the day.

“We have a good reputation as a cafe; we’ve won our share of accolades. What I want to have is a nice family place where kids can come, be comfortable, have a scoop and maybe some birthday cake,” he said.

Ortega will be adding six to eight new employees to the seven already working at the restaurant.

The cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Plans are to have the creamery open from 3-10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; and noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

“But that may change depending on how busy we are,” he said.

During hours the two businesses overlap, customers will be able to order from both menus.

Sundays the creamery will be staffed by youths from Teen Challenge International, a Christian-based nonprofit group, with an agency in Pasco. Proceeds that day will go to Teen Challenge.

“I have a positive feeling about what I’m doing. It’s a new dimension for me,” he said. “I love downtown Kennewick and wouldn’t have my business anywhere else.”

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 509-582-1513;