SRE In The Community
Every year, Spokane Restaurant Equipment designs dozens of restaurants and commercial kitchens all over the country. However, once in awhile we get the chance to work on something truly unique- a new concept that can positively impact our neighborhoods and community. This week, we are highlighting one such project we’ve had the pleasure of working on for the past few months.
Fresh Soul (expected to open in East Central Spokane in March 2018) is unlike any other place to eat in the Inland Northwest. In addition to being a fully operational soul food restaurant, it is a youth outreach and afterschool workforce development program.
“It’s about education,” says Michael Brown, Founder, President, and CEO of Fresh Soul. Brown’s goal is to provide Spokane area youth with the real world “on-the-job” skills required to work in the food and hospitality industry. Youths between the ages of 14 and 18 who maintain a 2.5 GPA and are members of the SERA (Spokane Eastside Reunion Association) after-school tutoring program, can be eligible to participate at Fresh Soul Restaurant. It's here students are given a real-world, practical opportunity to train in a fully operational restaurant.
The mission of Fresh Soul is to “Empower our youth with the necessary skills to challenge their perceptions and attitudes toward career and educational opportunities… by providing mentoring and tutoring that will focus on improving grades to the level required for college, vocational, and technical school admission.”
Upon completion of the Fresh Soul program, youths will receive a certificate to acknowledge their accomplishment. All youth participants will be paid minimum wage or wages according to Washington State Employment. Plus, participants who successfully complete the program can take advantage of Brown’s network of restaurant professionals to find a job.
Brown has been developing this restaurant program for three years. When asked where the idea came from, he jovially replied, “the good Lord,” and went on to explain that support for Fresh Soul has been overwhelming. “It’s a God thing,” he said, “It’s unbelievable” how the community has stepped up to support this project. Fresh Soul has received large donations and financial support from dozens of sources, including Numerica Credit Union, The City of Spokane, Lowe’s Hardware, Bernardo Wills Architecture, and Sheldon Jackson, just to name a few.
The first year of operation is what Brown is affectionately calling his “pilot” year. There will be 2-3 participants in the first Fresh Soul class. But, Brown has ambitions of the program being much larger in the future. His plan is to have upwards of 25-30 students participating in the Fresh Soul program per year.
When asked what someone can expect to see at Fresh Soul when they open in March, Brown said, “It will blow you away.” Brown stated that Fresh Soul is a friendly environment. Everyone is invited to come take part in this exciting revitalization project for the East Central community.
If you are interested in participating in the Fresh Soul project, please contact Michael Brown at 509.995.3606
If you would like to donate to Fresh Soul or the Spokane Eastside Reunion Association, click HERE.