Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308
Friday, March 8, 2019 at 12:11 p.m.
A restaurant is bringing new life and vitality to East Central Spokane.
Fresh Soul, on East Fifth Street, opened its doors last summer.
Fresh Soul’s specialty is delicious, Southern food but also serves up employment opportunities and first-time job training for teenagers.
“This is Soul food. This is the real deal! We got the seafood gumbo. We got ribs, chicken, hot links, pulled pork and of course, fried chicken,” exclaimed manager Michael Brown.
However, Brown says what’s on the menu takes a back seat to creating a supportive work environment for young people.
“This also is a mentor program. First and foremost, we want to mentor these kids,” Brown said.
Prospective employees have to demonstrate they’re doing well in school before Brown will consider hiring them.
“Mr. Brown has always had an open door. If you really want it and you come down and prove that you really want it, he’ll give you the chance to do want you want to do,” said Jacob Robins, as he wrapped clean silverware inside napkins.
“All kids are looking for discipline. They really do want some discipline and we’re going to make sure they get that here,” Brown asserted from behind the front counter.
Fresh Soul took shape inside a long-vacant ice cream parlor. Brown and an army of volunteers brought the building back to life to provide neighborhood teenagers a place to work and stay out of trouble.
“I think it’s good when you are ready for it. I mean starting off young is perfect. I think you are less likely to get on bad paths like drugs, alcohol and all that. Plus, I have a job and I can make some money so that’s kinda cool,” said 14 year-old Edee Morse.
“They are easy but when they want things done, they want it done right, and immediately,” added Robins.
Spokane mayor David Condon recognized Brown, at the State of the City Address, for Brown’s contributions to the East Central Community.
Brown humbly rejects any praise for himself saying, he is simply motivated by his faith.
“We’re going to give these kids some skills to have when they are ready to go to the next level. This is a God thing we are doing here. It’s a community thing. We want people to get involved in this,” Brown said.
“Fresh Soul is a great example of a community working with city government to achieve great results,” Condon said.
The City of Spokane’s Transportation Benefit District provided $ 81,000 in funding for new sidewalks and landscaping to give this particular block on Fifth Avenue a facelift.
More information on the State of the City is available on the web site.