Three of a kind – Eugène Weekly
Decades before taking over Washburne Cafe in 2016, its current owners attended Springfield High School together. Buying Main Street Springfield coffee was not their collective teenage dream, but it is now a place where they have invested money, energy and even their own appliances to serve the little one. lunch, brunch and lunch, offering artisan takes on donut and fried chicken.
A love for coffee and food brought together the three owners: Derek and Mindy Weber, who wanted to open a cafe, and Charlie Hester, who had spent the previous 10 years playing and touring with the band Parson Red Heads and wanted to open. A coffee. shop in Springfield.
The result is the Washburne Café. “When we started, we had no romantic idea of the restaurant business,” says Mindy Weber. “We just wanted to be a part of this community because that’s where we were born and raised.”
Since buying the cafe five years ago, the trio have found themselves bringing in their home appliances to support the business. When they moved in, Mindy says, they realized their appliances were an improvement over what was in the kitchen, so they slowly started bringing items from their living room and kitchen.
Then, just before the start of the pandemic, the coffee stove broke. Mindy remembers Derek and their nephew bringing the oven from their house at 11pm to the cafe. “We lived six months without an oven at home,” adds Mindy.
The Washburne Cafe menu isn’t big as Derek Weber says coffee prefers quality over quantity, but there is variety whether you want coffee and a pastry or a full meal.
“We try to travel a lot,” Mindy says. “We feel like you have to choose between quality coffee and where to have breakfast. We want to have a place that is both.
What stands out from the Washburne Cafe menu are its donuts and fried chicken, two items Derek says he wanted to sell when they took over the cafe from the previous owners in 2016.
The cafe’s fried chicken, which comes in sandwiches or accompanied by waffles, begins with a saltwater brine overnight, Derek says. “Brine is a salty, sweet, lemony herbal brine that we make here,” he adds. “The brine makes the biggest difference because it keeps it nice and juicy and just gives that flavor that you don’t get by coating it.” The cafe makes bread and fries with every order of chicken made to order, he adds, and everything is placed between a cookie or a homemade bun.
That means getting your chicken fried might take a while, but the cafe also offers fresh donuts on weekends, some of the best in Eugene-Springfield, where your options are simple or extravagant.
The donut is chewy because it’s made from brioche, Derek says. The dough rises overnight, he adds, and then in the morning the staff roll it up and fry it. The frostings, thick and sweet, are homemade and available in chocolate, strawberry, maple and vanilla.
Whenever they visit bigger cities, Mindy says they love to hunt donuts. But in Eugene-Springfield, Mindy says there isn’t this artisan donut shop. So Washburne’s recipe is an answer to their craving for a good donut in town, Derek says.
The Washburne Cafe is known as a breakfast spot, Derek says, but it has a lunch menu. Since the cafe gets much of its produce from local farms, it allows the lunch menu to change with the season, such as offering a BLT sandwich in the summer, featuring local tomatoes and greens, adds. he does.
Springfield’s Main Street is a different place from where the three owners attended Springfield High School, a place that now has record stores and restaurants instead of what once was – strip clubs and bars. And that has changed in the five years since the Webers and Hester took over the Washburne Cafe.
Before the pandemic, Derek says, owners wanted the Washburne to become more than a breakfast and brunch place; it would also be a dessert spot like Sweet Life in Eugene for those who had eaten at a nearby Main Street restaurant.
Then the pandemic arrived.
Planning for coffee is tough right now, but Derek says, in his mind, that he sees three things in the future: donuts, coffee, and fried chicken.
Washburne Cafe is at 326 Main Street, Springfield. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, visit WashburneCafe.com or find on Facebook and Instagram.