There’s a man behind the counter at the downtown Cheney Delights restaurant. He’s also behind several influential boards in Cheney.
Fred Pollard may greet you with a friendly smile when you walk in the door of his restaurant at 513 First St. Take a moment to be distracted by the dizzying art all over the walls, the flashing jukebox, the Guitar Hero in the back, and then focus on the menu – all-American food such as barbecue, hot dogs, ice cream and specialty orders such as pizza and cake.
Step up to the counter and Pollard may even offer you a sample of his homemade ice cream, doling it out with a twinkle in his eye.
Pollard is involved in in several aspects of Cheney’s downtown, making him a key figure in many community events. He’s the board president of Pathways to Progress. He worked with Cheney Mayor Allan Gainer to start an organization to unify Cheney’s businesses – the Cheney Merchants Association.
When asked why he’s taken such an interest in getting knee-deep in community affairs, Pollard has a simple answer. “I like people. I like working with people. I’m a bit of a maverick. I’m goal oriented,” he said. He was recently getting over a cold, but everything he said still had that gentle, twinkling mirth simmering beneath.
He and his wife Gail managed low-income housing units in Florida before they moved to Cheney. They had been tossing around the idea of “community” for a while and decided, once they’d seen Spokane and Cheney, that this place fit the bill for their definition of “community.”
“Cheney is everything America was built on,” he said, as his wife walked into the store, and asked what’s cooking in the oven. She put on a flour-powdered apron and disappeared into the back.
Cheney has a can-do attitude, Pollard said.
He can trace his own can-do attitude back to his childhood. He’s an insatiable reader, and wishes they had had Google when he was younger. When he was 12, he built a table-sized laser, without a manual. He went on to be an electrical technician for 22 years, where he met his wife.
“Whatever business we get into, we do it together,” Fred Pollard said. Cheney Delights is their third endeavor and they’ve been working hard on it for about three years now.
“We took all of our savings and poured it into Cheney,” he said.
He admits the road hasn’t always been easy and they are still breaking even as far as earnings are concerned.
Their restaurant itself is rooted in community. Gail Pollard said as local schools are asked to eliminate all peanuts from their menus, she gets calls for special cookies.
“They know I can make them peanut free,” she said. When the Cheney recreation department held the annual Daddy Daughter Dance, Cheney Delights provided the food – 20 pizzas and one enormous sheet cake.
“We can make it all back there,” Gail Pollard said with a smile.
The maverick in Fred Pollard has him looking into alternative energy these days, he said. Always an eye on the future, he’s been working with the University of Idaho for more than a year on the various seeds that could win big in providing energy.
He gets that same twinkle in his eye as he talks about this next potential idea.