Spokane's East Central community is getting a new restaurant. The new eatery will reflect it's cultural heritage but also serve up a brighter future for the kids who live nearby.
The restaurant is called Fresh Soul, and, as the name implies, it will serve up authentic soul food.
However, as delicious as that sounds, this restaurant is really about uplifting the East Central neighborhood.
Michael Brown is a former insurance salesman who's now a walking, talking catalyst for change in the East Central community.
In a former ice cream shop that's been closed for almost 40 years, Brown wants to bring new life and prosperity to this stretch of 5th Avenue and a lot of volunteers are helping him.
“Everybody I talk to, when I go to them ask them for donations, sponsorships, [I say] it's for the youth and they jump right on board,” said Brown.
That's because Brown already has an established track record of helping kids develop discipline and stay out of trouble. This summer he coached his fifth youth basketball camp.
When Brown needed needed drains for the new restaurant's kitchen, the plumbers and pipefitters from local 44 were happy to oblige.
“You know it's for the kids here,” said Brett Wideman, President of Plumber and Steamfitters Local 44. “I run a five year apprenticeship program and my students are here giving their time. Giving back to the community, it's the least we can do.”
Whatever profits Brown makes selling soul food will be reinvested in child friendly programs like the new rec center just down the street. Gonzaga students are now tutoring the neighborhood's kids there three nights a week.
“Because when kids go off to college, they better know how to study,” said Brown. “If not, they're going to be in trouble. This whole thing is to help the kids with their homework, but more importantly to get them into a work study habit.”
Brown hopes to have the Fresh Soul serving up food early next spring and plans to hire teens from the neighborhood to work here.
When you're busing tables after school, it doesn't leave a lot of time leftover for getting in trouble.