Driving down Springfield’s Main Street, visitors pass historic buildings that were once the heart of the town. Although the city spread out, the street maintains a nostalgic feel. Among its modern restaurants, fabric stores and coffee shops sits the Washburne Cafe.

The Washburne’s yellow brickwork stands out among the rest of the quaint street. An archway interrupts the golden facade, leading to the front entrance. A sheet of printer paper, which reads “I like you” in a child’s handwriting, hangs on the left door.

“We really wanted to be a community space where people could meet,” cafe co-owner Charlie Hester said. After 11 years in the Portland coffee business, Hester — a Springfield native — wanted to open his own coffee shop. “It felt really nice to come home,” he said. 

He partnered with two of his high school friends, Derek and Mindy Weber, to open their own cafe. Hester was somewhat nervous to go into business with such good friends, but it has been easier than expected. “I was worried we’d argue more, but it’s been pretty easy. I got to design the bar and Derek gets his kitchen,” said Hester. 

Hester said that Weber keeps the menu simple to accommodate the current size of the cafe’s kitchen. Eventually, Weber would like to bake their own breads. (Julia Taylor/Emerald)

Hester and the Webers bought the Washburne from previous management last September. After a month of renovations, the cafe reopened on Oct. 24, 2016. To maintain the authentic Springfield atmosphere, the owners focused their interior design on the building’s original 1911 brick walls and hardwood floors.

Inside the cafe’s doors, one can find a combination of a modern, tasteful aesthetic with undertones of Springfield’s history. Exposed brick, crisp white walls and minimalist design encompass the cafe. Community members can enjoy a cup of coffee at a variety of benches, bars and couches.

The combination of vintage decorations, clean lines and an abundance of greenery create a comfortable space for the Springfield community. The single brick wall displays a variety of merchandise and a menu composed of marquee lettering.

“It’s very hipster and minimalistic — the drink menu, too,” cafe regular Jessica Rez said. “Honestly, I just really like it here.” The food menu contains variations of classic breakfast and lunch foods, like eggs and toast, sandwiches, oatmeal and pastries.

The Washburne’s commitment to selling local goods helps the cafe embody its community. The merchandise wall features goods from local vendors and artists, and the coffee is from the closest producer the owners could find without sacrificing taste. Derek Weber uses bread from the Hideaway Bakery in South Eugene and dairy products from Umpqua Dairy to create items for the Washburne menu.

The light bulb lamps were created by an artist whose studio is on the other side of the Washburn’s back wall. (Julia Taylor/Emerald)

The Washburne’s owners try to use local vendors because they believe promoting other people’s passions is important. “We try to keep it as Springfield as possible. It’s all about supporting other people,” Hester said. In the future, Hester and Weber would like to start roasting their own coffee and selling their own bread.

Until then, they are happy with where they are.

“Growing up I couldn’t wait to leave, but when I came back I found people who were so fiercely Springfield,” said Hester. He feels more connected to the people here and hopes the Washburne connects its patrons to the wider community. With a deep appreciation for home, Hester and the Webers don’t see the Washburne going anywhere.

You can visit the Washburne Café at 326 Main St., Springfield or check out its website here.

Follow Julia on Twitter @juliataylor1289.

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!