Warmth

It's a standing appointment: the first Sunday night of every month. And it's about the only time you won't find Pat and Mam Smitamorn standing side by side cooking at the restaurant they own together.

Instead, they'll be doing just about the same thing downtown at The City Gate. Dinner service is always restaurant-style here, but on these nights the food truly matches the hospitality: it's the authentic flavors of Sala Thai (Airway Heights).

Regulars among the roughly 75 guests know as soon as they see the dishes of sweet chili sauce placed in the middle of each table: it's Thai food night! Hot soups or curries will be poured over rice, along with well-spiced chicken or pork and loads of fresh veggies. It's a welcome surprise for folks in need of a hot meal and some community around the table.

But the food's spice and temperature isn't the only source of warmth here. Spending a bit of time with Pat and Mam is a good way to learn what generosity and joy look like, and for the past few years, they've been quietly sharing these traits with their neighbors monthly. Pat describes it simply: it's one way they can give back to the Spokane community.

This is why we love great local businesses. Often they forge small partnerships with local nonprofits that don't come with a bunch fanfare or credit, because of course, that isn't the point anyway. Instead, these partnerships look more like consistent, dependable service and the sharing of gifts. On a recent first Sunday, I headed to City Gate hoping to see the Smitamorns. But because of a severe foot injury Pat had suffered, they wouldn't be able to stand and serve as normal. However, instead of calling in to cancel (which would've been understandable), they dropped off a donation: enough pizza and dessert to feed every one of the night's guests.

Of course, Pat and Mam's community efforts don't go totally unnoticed. Each month, at least a few delighted guests approach the kitchen before heading back out into the nightto offer sincere compliments and thanks to the chefs.