A Passion for Food and Community

By Alethea Dumas The Black Lens

Jordan Smith is no stranger to Spokane, as he has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 16 years old. His journey over the years busing tables, dishwashing, delivery driving, and bartending sparked a passion for food and people that led him to creating and co-owning Cascadia Public House today.

“It’s been a long process going from five owners down to a couple of owners including me now,” Smith said. “We’re extremely happy with where we are at and the success of Cascadia, and I feel like we’re still growing and haven’t hit our peak yet. We are crazy busy and I still meet people all the time that have never heard of Cascadia.”

Smith has shared his path to Cascadia many times, expressing the importance of climbing the ladder, preparing for opportunities, and working hard in a society that seeks instant gratification and in Smith’s words, “microwave success.”

However, Smith’s story goes deeper and beyond the success of Cascadia. “At the end of the day I believe it’s not what you do, it’s who you are and your character that’s most truly important,” he said.

Smith gives credit to many of his role models that he looks up to, observes, and learns from that have made him who he is today. He refers to his wife, mother, and grandmother as his three most important Queens in his life.

Smith and his wife, Shannon Chan, have been together since high school, soon celebrating their 18-year anniversary. The couple has two little boys, Amari and Quincy.

“We have grown up together and she has been an amazing support system,” he said, “always pushing me to be better, and still remains the greatest mother that I have ever witnessed.”

Smith’s mother had him when she was 18 years old, a single mother raising both him and his sister alone for many years. “She was a kid when she had

me and we were kind of growing up together sometimes,” Smith said. “My sister and I never wanted for anything because my mom did everything in her power to make sure we were good and had everything we needed. We had a very good childhood.”

His mother continues to be a great source of strength and support for him in everything he does. Smith describes his grandma as the sweetest woman in the world: “She has a special different type of love that is really close to my heart because she was like a second mom to me.”

Additionally, Smith has had many male influences in his life that have shaped him into the man he has become. His father Randy Smith was born and raised in Oakland and known in Spokane for playing basketball at Whitworth University, and working as a bartender and security guard along with his teammates at Swaxx.

“After he left the Spokane area he was in and out of my life when I was young,” Smith said, “but we continued to grow our relationship and get closer as I got older.

It is crazy how much we are alike. He was competitive, a thinker, compassionate, and had a huge personality. A cool guy that everyone loved.”

Smith was only 21 years old when his father passed away and he was determined and motivated to make his dad proud. “My dad mentioned to me that he had dreamed of opening a bar, so it’s cool to be able to come full

circle and live out some of his old dreams now,” he said. Smith’s stepdad MonRa Muse is one of the most influential men in his life. Muse is currently the regional director for the graduation success program at Treehouse for kids, which is a nonprofit that matches foster youth with mentors and provides assistance with helping them get set up with life once they age out of foster care.

“I actually have two adopted foster brothers and so the heart and compassion my stepdad has is endless,” Smith said. “He took me under his wing at a young age, and challenged me to never quit. He made it cool to be a good person.” Smith’s grandfather was the leader of the family, taking care of everyone while putting himself through college and owning his own chiropractic business for over 30 years.

“He was definitely an outlier in his family, being one of the only ones who achieved that type of success.,” he said. “He showed me how to take care of the family, be there for people, and be an entrepreneur. His dedication, consistency, and work ethic sticks with me. I am forever grateful to my grandpa for his continued support and guidance.”

Growing up in Spokane, Smith was also influenced and encouraged by men in the community such as Larry Roseman from Larry’s Barbershop and Bob Hemphill from Chicken N Mo. “My dad and step dad both took me to Larry’s Barbershop all the time,” Smith said, “and I thought Larry and Q were the coolest men around. I loved going to the barbershop and seeing a Black man run his business, serve the community, and see people respect, love, and support him doing his own thing. Larry always called me little Randy and I don’t think he ever knew how much he inspired me and influenced me growing up. I wanted to be a barber and open my own barbershop one day because of Larry.”

Hemphill from Chicken N Mo not only provided Smith with good food to eat, but he also fed his mind and soul. “In high school at Lewis and Clark I would go down to Chicken N Mo three to four times a week for lunch,” Smith said. “Third period I would call in my order and it was ready for me when I got there so I had enough time to eat it and get back to class. Bob was always working but would still take the time to talk to me, and really pour into me.

“Seeing another Black man successful in his business that positively reaches and impacts the community was a game changer for Jordan and reminded him that anything is possible. Lastly, five men that played an uncle role to Jordan and were best friends with his father really made a positive influence in his life.

“Those guys stayed around me even after my dad went back to California and after he passed,” Smith said. “They checked on me and my family, supported my business, and really showed me what brotherhood looks like, what loyalty looks like, and the bonds you can build through basketball.”

As for the influences in his life, Smith shared, “Those guys stayed around me even after my dad went back to California and after he passed. They checked on me and my family, supported my business, and really showed me what brotherhood looks like, what loyalty looks like, and the bonds you can build through basketball.”

All these men have led Smith to understanding his influence and how he needs to pass down what he has been taught to his two sons and his community. Who Jordan Smith is has become his biggest strength today thanks to his three queens, his siblings who are his source of inspiration, his two sons and all his male role models and mentors.

Smith has spent four years coaching girls and boys AAU as well as training his two sisters who both went on to play college basketball. Jordan along with co-owner Robbie Hatch, opened Cascadia Public House in 2017 in Spokane’s Five Mile Neighborhood. Since 2018 he’s been coaching Lewis and Clark girls’ basketball as a varsity assistant.

“I feel like the Lord has blessed me so incredibly much,” he said, “and I feel like I have a duty to serve him and others in many ways from my team of over 30 people at Cascadia, to our guests who are the livelihood of the restaurant, to coaching my high school girls basketball team at Lewis and Clark, to supporting friends, family, community and everyone in between. I am committed and determined to serve to the best of my ability and make all that paved the way for me as proud as possible.”