He’s chained to a white fence, pink-skinned and wearing only black boxer shorts. When you walk past him to go into Mama Doree’s Rotisserie, he’ll give you a fair lookin’ at with his extraterrestrial bugged-out eyes and pursed lips.
He’s there to remind everyone that “they come from everywhere to eat at Mama’s.” His name is Axiom the Alien.
“He came from far, far away,” says owner Ralph Hunter, a forever-grinning man who can fling jokes faster than frog legs leap out of a steaming pot. (Sorry, they don’t serve frog legs at this Southern-style joint.)
Hunter used to work as a technical writer for a company that makes electronic equipment enclosures. He also has two fiction books on Amazon, writes songs and draws. But when he turned 62, he says he realized he was too old to be hired anywhere.
“I’m a workaholic. What am I supposed to do? Go into retirement or something? I’m not dead yet,” he says.
So he opened a restaurant and named it Mama Doree’s after a character from a story he wrote and read his children when they were little. Mama Doree took in an orphan boy in Louisiana and always smelled of butter and cinnamon. Hunter says he is trying to represent the whole South on the menu. Entrees such as rotisserie chicken and ham, meat loaf, and stuffed bell peppers are combined with hot and cold sides such as baked beans, fried okra, macaroni salad and cabbage slaw. You can get a plate with an entrée, two sides, bread, dessert and a drink for $11.
But Hunter is not just serving the food his grandmother and great-grandmother used to cook in Tennessee; he’s also in the business of giving people a chance. He wanted to create a place where people could work, and where it would be the last job they have to look for.
“We’re trying to make a difference and doing the best we can,” he says.
Hunter makes it a point to hire veterans, people with special needs, older folks like him, and the ones who just plain can’t find a job.
George Hawkins, a veteran, says Hunter didn’t waste any time hiring him.
“He has a good dream. He’s not like most business people. He’s a real person’s person,” Hawkins says.
Hunter is also willing to help you burn off the extra calories after eating one of his enormous pot pies or something from the overflowing dessert menu.
“One guy said he can’t eat too many carbs, so I offered to chase him down the street to work it off,” Hunter says, smirking.
Mama Doree’s Rotisserie • 14720 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley • Open Tue-Sat, 11 am-8 pm; Sun, 11 am-4 pm • mamadorees.com • 850-3993