SPOKANE, Wash. - Chaps Restaurant and Bakery in Latah Valley shut down their restaurant Thursday morning to feed families of Freeman High School and first responders, free of charge.
“We didn't know what to expect this morning,” said Celeste Shaw, owner of Chaps Restaurant and Bakery. “Whether there would be 1 person or 100 people, but we've seen about 600 people today.”
Everyone who attended seemed thrilled to have a place to meet and just be together.
On Wednesday morning, Celeste Shaw, like most everyone in the Inland Northwest, was horrified at the events that took place at Freeman High School. However, unlike most people, Shaw was in the position to offer an unbelievable gesture.
“We decided that we would close the doors of Chaps and just open the restaurant as one community space for everyone who was affected by the tragedy and cooked and cleaned and prepared early in the morning and opened the doors at 9 today for everyone.”
“Everyone” included first responders, who were just as relieved to have a safe space to spend time with their community following Wednesday's harrowing events.
“It gives them a chance to engage people at a very different level,” said First Responder Mark John. “It gives them the opportunity to have discussions in a very different environment where people can express themselves and actually heal from an event like this.”
Several hundred yards east of Freeman High, class of 2000 graduate Brendon Cronk spent his afternoon carving a tribute into the hillside in honor of his Alma mater. For Cronk, like Shaw and so many other community members, work took a backseat on Thursday.
The heart tribute received no shortage of approving honks all day long.