Country music filtered from the kitchen as the portions of an early lunch found their way to plates at a folksy diner in north Spokane last week.
Customers mingled at round tables while restaurant manager Yvonne Millspaugh delivered the soup of the day – vegetable raditore with pasta, roasted zucchini, carrots and onions – to a patron who was already addressing a garden salad.
Since opening on Feb. 6, the Silver Café at 4803 N. Nevada St. in the Hillyard neighborhood has already developed a following among locals for its appetizing, value-conscious menu and amiable customer service. The success of the site springs from what some might consider an unusual source – the Silver Café is a venture sponsored by Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels.
“People are surprised,” said Millspaugh, who has spent 35 years in the food industry. “They don’t realize this food is made from scratch. They have this idea of what home-delivered meals are and when they’re here, they realize the food is good.”
There are typically two entrees featured for lunch and dinner – selections include orange chicken, meat loaf, tacos and more. A soup-and-salad option is a daily fixture with nearly 10 varieties of soup, from ministrone to clam chowder.
“There’s a stigma about Meals on Wheels food and we’re trying to change that,” said Pam Almeida, executive director of Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels.
In adherence to Meals on Wheels policies, seniors at the restaurant are asked for a recommended donation of $3.50 per meal, although no one is ever turned away for inability to pay. Lunch and dinner for those under 60 runs $6.
Almeida discovered the site for the Silver Café when she was delivering meals in the neighborhood. The venue stood as the Moose Crossing Café for four years before closing last year.
“It was a popular neighborhood diner,” Almeida said. “We inherited things like the tables and silverware.”
Among the 10 potential locations that Almeida considered, the former home of the Moose Crossing seemed to typify the “bistro look” that she was seeking. Along with equipment like a sandwich maker and walk-in freezer already in place, Ziggy’s helped out with tile flooring and a new counter was constructed.
Almeida said the help of volunteers was a key to the project. Renovations began last November and a lease was signed the following month.
“So many people from the community have pitched in to make it happen,” Almeida said.
The restaurant is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Almeida said there are still some upgrades to occur, including signage and exterior painting. There has also been talk of adding weekends and a breakfast menu.
Along with the diner, Meals on Wheels features congregate meal sites throughout Spokane County, including five locations in the greater Spokane Valley – Opportunity Presbyterian Church, Liberty Lake City Hall, the Spokane Valley Senior Center, Edgecliff and the Millwood Presbyterian Church. Since becoming the countywide Senior Nutrition provider in 2011, Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels provides meals to homebound residents on nearly 40 routes, from Latah to Cheney.
Meals on Wheels also operates its own kitchen and catering service.
Besides the flavorful and nutritious food at the Silver Café, Almeida said customers can take heart knowing their meal money benefits a good cause.
“We let them know they are contributing to our programs,” she said. “It gets the community to see what Meals on Wheels is all about.”
Want to find out more?
To learn more about Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels, including volunteer opportunities, call Pam Almeida at 924-6976 or visit www.spokanevalleymealsonwheels.com.