In just a few weeks, a holistic concept in restaurant eating could transform East Sprague Avenue at Pittsburg Street into a new destination on the path to good nutrition and a “green” lifestyle.
Keith and Janice Raschko are converting their teahouse at 1804 E. Sprague Ave. into a community kitchen where diners choose their portions from a variety of organic daily offerings and then pay the house what they think the food is worth.
“Certainly, the customer can’t lose,” Janice Raschko said. “I love the idea of picking your portion.”
The Raschkos’ venture will be known as One World Spokane Community Kitchen and will include an organic garden at the rear of the commercial storefront that will house the café-like restaurant.
It is being patterned after a successful nonprofit restaurant in Salt Lake City known as One World Everybody Eats, the creation of Denise Cerreta, a former acupuncturist who has been following her evolving vision of revolutionizing the experience of dining out.
She has been traveling throughout the U.S. helping people like the Raschkos establish community kitchens and has been staying in a small apartment this summer above the Sprague Avenue restaurant at the invitation of the Raschkos, who also live in an apartment above the business.
“There is something about this model that changes people’s relationship to food,” Cerreta said.
The restaurant will offer organic products only and will have a free dish available every day that is made from basic staples – rice and beans for example. The free dish allows people to sample the food or to eat if they have no money.
Under Cerreta’s model, people with no money can earn their meal by volunteering at the restaurant.
“We found a way where everybody can eat,” she said.
Customers will order from a counter next to the cooktops, where restaurant chefs will work within sight of diners. Community seating is open so diners can sit with one another and get acquainted.
Cerreta plans to have her executive chef from Salt Lake City come to Spokane in September to help with the opening. The chef will hire and train someone to take over as chef for the Spokane restaurant.
The plan is to have a changing menu that includes one or two soups, a complimentary meatless dish, deli-style salads, a hot entrée with meat or fish and two or three hot vegetable side dishes. The restaurant will offer coffee and tea, and diners are welcome to bring their own non-alcoholic drinks.
After customers finish, they put what they think is a fair price into a drop box. “It works very well,” Cerreta said. “It’s on the honor system.” The concept of tailor-made portions also reduces food waste, a downside in the typical American restaurant.
The Raschkos first learned about One World from a travel magazine and decided to visit Cerreta’s restaurant in June to check it out.
“My very first gut reaction was, ‘Wow, kind of weird,’ but it intrigued me,” Janice Raschko said.
Four years ago, the Raschkos purchased the 1907 Inland Hardware building and had been using it for Keith Raschko’s successful online motorcycle parts business as well as the SereniTea Global Caffe. The Raschkos sold the parts business to Keith Raschko’s brother, Chuck Raschko, and are now converting the teahouse into the One World restaurant.
Volunteers from the nearby boxing club put primer on a brick wall at the west end of the building on Pittsburg Street, and the Spokane Falls Community College art club painted a mural with images of food on it earlier this month.
Cerreta said a goal is to make sure that no one in the neighborhood goes hungry, and she is committed to an emerging concept of locally produced, sustainable organic agriculture to enhance a community’s “food security.”
Keith Raschko said the One World model matches his and his wife’s commitment to community building. “It fits our spiritual preference,” he said.