SPOKANE, Wash. - In the fall of 2011, the Milk Bottle restaurant burned down, but out of that tragedy sparked a tradition to give back to the Salvation Army on Christmas Eve.
500 mouths to feed and only two cooks in the kitchen; Milk Bottle owners Kris and Ed Ritchie are happy to do it.
"It's a lot of people all at once," Kris Ritchie said, laughing. "We pretty much have to cook all day and then feed them within 45 minutes."
"It's fast paced, so we throw the food at them ... No!" she added.Salvation Army dinner with Milk Bottle
The owners of the Milk Bottle Café slice all the ham -- 45 8 lb. bone-in hams to be exact -- and then whip up the potatoes and make that homemade huckleberry ice cream the Milk Bottle is famous for.
"Last year our restaurant at the Milk Bottle burned down and we were quite bored while they were re-constructing and figuring out how to rebuild it, so we started volunteering here," Kris explained.
It was as simple as that. They had no more, so instead Ed and Kris gave what they could, their talent for cooking. Huckleberry cobbler is on the menu Monday night.
"There's a lot of needy people out there and just giving them one dinner for Christmas makes you feel a lot better," Kris Ritchie said.
And so out of tragedy came a new Christmas Eve tradition for the owners of a local icon.
"I thought we were in bad shape when the milk bottle burned, but there's a lot of people that don't have home in are in worse shape because they don't have jobs," Kris said. "It's our town, and we want to help our town and the people that need the help so we'll continue to do that as long as we can."