Fifty Licks will open a new location in the Slabtown neighborhood in Northwest Portland. 

Image: Karen Brooks

Upon first scoop, you wouldn’t imagine there is much to ice cream. Just take some frozen milky stuff, add a little artificial flavoring with a dash of Red No. 40, sprinkle on a few nuts, and voila—ice cream. Right? Fifty Licks owner Chad Draizin would beg to differ.

A self-professed nerd with a (delicious) dream, Draizin is interested in food science, in the chemical compounds that confound and delight our taste buds. From beer to bread to ice cream, it’s all a science—and art.

“Where science and art intersect, that’s my sweet spot, that’s where my talents lie and that’s what I really enjoy,” says Draizin.

That scientific approach has garnered love from casual diners with a sweet tooth and foodies alike. Draizin’s venture began in 2009 with a little blue ice cream truck. In 2013, Fifty Licks opened its first physical location on Southeast Clinton, but its second location on East Burnside across from Laurelhurst Theater (opened in 2017) is what truly brought Fifty Licks to Portland fame. Now, after 10 years in the business, Draizin is opening a new Fifty Licks shop in Slabtown.

Fifty Licks’s new location at Carson Apartments, set to open sometime in April, will feature a menu similar to its other locations and an “up-to-date décor,” says Draizin.  

Taking notes of what works and what doesn’t from his other shops, Draizin says not much will change with the new location, though he hopes to expand Fifty Licks’s non-dairy menu. Currently, he says a third of the menu features dairy-free products. By the end of 2020, Draizin hopes to bring that up to 50 percent.  

This is the latest place to open in suddenly hot Slabtown, along with Mama Bird, Gabriel Pascuzzi’s new grilled chicken and roasted veggie shop, and G-Love, Portland’s first “reverse steakhouse.” With an ever-burgeoning foodie scene, we’re all screaming for Fifty Licks.

“There is so much good food on the block, and because we’re really an after-dinner place, it just works out well. I’m just excited to be on the other side of the river,” says Draizin.

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