If you're not a regular customer at Gordy's Sichuan Cafe on Spokane's South Hill, you're probably none the wiser to any of the recent changes there. Since the longtime cafe's founding owners, Gordy and Jaymie Crafts, sold the neighborhood favorite last August, not much has changed. That's something the Chinese eatery's devotees should all be thankful for.
The Crafts didn't just sell to the highest bidder — Gordy's new owners are longtime chefs Dan Burns and Casey Riendeau, who collectively have worked in the restaurant's kitchen for more than 25 years.
"It's not broken, so we're not fixing it other than some cosmetic fixes," says front-of-house manager Alicia Riendeau, Casey's wife.
"I mean, really it's just the same place with different owners, but the same people who have been there cooking the food the whole time," Riendeau adds.
So far, the visible changes to the eatery — tucked in an outdated strip mall on East 30th Avenue just off Grand Boulevard — include a new logo, website, updates to the building's awning and eventually some remodeling of the small interior space.
In the months since the transition — the Crafts sold the 18-year-old business to enter into retirement — Riendeau notes that customer feedback has been positive. To extend its reach beyond the South Hill neighborhoods where it's known, Gordy's also launched an updated website listing its full menu — which is available for takeout orders — and has started maintaining a more active presence on social media.
Known for its attention to detail in preparing authentic, Sichuan-style Chinese food, Gordy's new owners would be remiss to make changes to the popular, established menu, which has online reviewers raving about dishes like two varieties of green beans ($11), Jiaozi dumplings ($10) and spicy Mongolian beef ($15).
Though neither former head chef Gordy Craft nor the restaurant's current chef-owners, Burns and Riendeau, are native to China, the touch of authenticity comes from Craft's careful passing of his Sichuan cooking skills on to each of his former employees.
"Gordy learned from a master chef in California and taught them how to cook that way," Alicia Riendeau explains. "We even have people from China come in and say that this is the most authentic [Chinese food] in the U.S. they've ever had." ♦
Gordy's Sichuan Cafe • 501 E. 30th • Open Tue-Fri, 11 am-9 pm or later; Sat, 4-9 pm or later • gordysspokane.com • 747-1170