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Goodbye and hello: As Fery’s Catering closes, Morsel by Rind and Wheat opens on Cowley Street

It’s an ending and a beginning, as Fery’s Catering & Takeout has closed, with owner Fery Haghighi retiring after living and working in Spokane for more than 40 years and leasing her building to Ricky Webster for his new Morsel by Rind and Wheat.

Morsel, at 421 S. Cowley St. on the corner with Fifth Avenue, opened April 19 and is an offshoot of Webster’s Rind and Wheat in Browne’s Addition, which opened in late 2020. While many of the baked goods at Rind and Wheat are also available at Morsel, Morsel’s focus includes offering breakfast and lunch items, including sandwiches, bowls and pastries.

For Haghighi, who celebrates her birthday on May 25, it is the end of an era, and she said, during an interview in her home Saturday morning, the reason was beyond her control.

“Our main reason for closing Fery’s Catering was because of COVID. I couldn’t find help, and I tried to stay open during COVID. It was very hard,” Haghighi said. “I did everything for two years, but I just couldn’t find employees.

“My daughter was worried about me and would help me a few days a week. But my kids convinced me that it was finally time to retire. I was thinking that I would die at Fery’s Catering. I wanted to work as long as I was able to.”

Haghighi was going to close Fery’s Catering in December if she didn’t find a buyer by then, but Webster had approached her about the building, even before it was for sale, during Terrain Table last July.

“Ricky came to me and said, ‘Fery, if you ever want to retire, I would like to take your place,’ ” Haghighi said. She had two to three other interested buyers, but she said Webster was her one choice even in just leasing. “I wanted someone to come in who would be a good ending for me and Fery’s Catering.”

“Ricky, I like him. He is a very wonderful man. He is doing very well at Rind and Wheat. My daughter shops there all the time. I am very happy that he is there. I hope people who liked me and Fery’s Catering will follow him. I’m telling all my friends and have stopped by nearly every day.”

Haghighi says of Webster’s baked goods, “Everything is really good. The bread is good. The croissants are good. He’s at the beginning, and he’s nervous. It’s hard to have two places.”

Haghighi and her family arrived in Spokane in 1980 from Iran, and her brother, former Spokane surgeon John Ganji, helped them get set up by, among other things, buying them a home. Ganji also helped his sister open Au Croissant, a bakery that is widely credited with bringing croissants and espresso to the forefront of Spokane’s culinary scene.

“It was a very small town, a mining town, when we arrived here, with very few restaurant options and options for bread,” Haghighi said. “We had to do something in our new home. In Iran, there is a strong French influence in the bread, pastries, everything. That’s how Au Croissant bakery came about, and people really loved the croissants.”

Au Croissant closed in 1996, and Fery’s Catering was purchased soon after and opened. Haghighi credits Fery’s long success partly to Leslie Kelly, a former features editor at The Spokesman-Review. “She followed me and was kind and wrote about Fery’s Catering,” Haghighi said. “She sent me a beautiful note and called me when I retired.”

Catering was “very successful for us,” Haghighi said, and Nordstrom was one of her longtime clients. Even after Nordstrom Café opened, the department store hired her for catering events. She remembers fondly catering very large Christmas events for Nordstrom.

Spokane has been idyllic for Haghighi as a place to run a business and call home. “Spokane has been absolutely wonderful. I’ve never heard anyone say a mean word about us.” And what about retirement now?

“Ricky asked me if I wanted to go to Morsel and still bake on occasion, but I think that’s his place now,” Haghighi. “At first, I wanted to keep the garden that I have there. There are a lot of vegetables in the big garden. But it’s his place now, and I want him to do whatever he wants.

“But I want to support him in any way. Lots of people have asked me about cooking classes or writing a cookbook. But I’m not into measurements – I just throw everything together. I don’t know yet. I’m honestly a little depressed about retirement.”

Haghighi believes remodeling her home will give her a lift, and she enjoys traveling with her husband, walking, cooking for her family and friends, hosting parties and reading cookbooks. She gives the cookbooks to the library when she’s done reading them.

“I’ll keep myself busy and occupied,” Haghighi said. “I’m not the type of person to just sit.”

And her favorite foods? “Every simple food is my favorite food. I don’t need a lot of ingredients. Simple, fresh and good is for me and the best thing. One of my favorites is Park Lodge. I love (Philip Stanton’s) cooking. It’s very pure. I love everyone. We have lots of good restaurants and chefs in Spokane.

“I’ve been so fortunate to find wonderful friends here in Spokane. I feel like they’re my family, and I feel like Spokane is my community. I feel very fortunate to be here, and I love it here.”

Check back soon for an interview with Webster, who talks about opening Morsel and writes the weekly “In the Kitchen With Ricky” column and recipe in Food in The Spokesman-Review every Wednesday. Morsel’s current hours are 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday.