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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Chef: Morsel by Rind and Wheat closing on lower South Hill because of safety concerns

Chef Ricky Webster is closing Morsel by Rind and Wheat, at 421 S. Cowley St., to walk-in business Friday.  (Courtesy of Ari Nordhagen)

Spokane chef Ricky Webster has decided to close what had been a second location for his popular Rind and Wheat bakery after less than a year in operation.

In April, Webster opened Morsel by Rind and Wheat at 421 S. Cowley St., which previously was the location of Fery’s Catering & Takeout, which had closed with the retirement of owner Fery Haghighi.

Webster said walk-in traffic failed to materialize at the takeout-only restaurant and the business suffered from a burglary in December and a rash of encounters with persons who left trash and tried camping on the property. The last day for walk-in traffic is Friday.

“I’ve always prided myself as a leader who provides a living wage and a safe work environment,” Webster said. “I had to make the decision to close.”

Someone burglarized the business in December and stole more than $3,000 worth of electronics and goods. Webster said the business kept getting interrupted by visitors who were not customers, who often left behind their belongings.

“I was taking time out of my day, or my employees’ day, having to clean and sweep the area of needles and used condoms,” he said. “It was a lot of frustration. The police department is struggling and they have limited resources. We just didn’t feel safe.”

Webster will continue to use the Cowley Street location, which has a large commercial kitchen, to support catering orders for Rind and Wheat, which is located at 1516 W. Riverside Ave. in Browne’s Addition.

Webster had hoped that Morsel would benefit from doctors and nurses walking down the South Hill from the hospital district, but instead he continually had to tell people that they could not camp on the private property.

“I was having employees threatened at 3 or 4 in the morning when they were coming here to work. When (nonemployees) couldn’t get inside, people were banging on the windows to get in,” Webster said. His employees were “scared and nervous,” he said.

As a result of the security concerns, Webster paid for a surveillance system and got rid of the cash register. His staff had been using a card scanner to conduct business.

“There is no more mental, physical or financial resources to expend at this point,” he said. “It’s sad and devastating. We wanted to nurture and offer something that is unique and special. Now we can’t do that to the extent that we hoped.

“The way that people can support us is by visiting us at Rind and Wheat and letting us fill your bellies,” he continued. “That’s the goal in all of this.”