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In celebration, Washburne Cafe gives back to community.

Byline: Patrick Malee The Register-Guard

Marilou Heriot knows that her business doesn't operate on an island.

As she celebrates her first-year anniversary as owner of the popular Washburne Cafe on downtown's Main Street, she knows there have been plenty of catalysts in her progression as a first-time restaurant owner - beginning with all those customers who keep her cafe landlocked in the most nurturing of ways.

There would be no Washburne Cafe without them, which is why Heriot decided to embrace the cafe's September anniversary as an opportunity to give back to the community - with fundraisers benefiting three different nonprofit groups.

During the first week of this month, the cafe donated an undisclosed percentage of its sales to Head Start of Lane County, and handed out $2 coffee coupons to every customer who brought in a school supply to donate to Head Start. In total, Heriot said they gathered about 72 pairs of socks, three watercolor sets and an array of watercolor paper, pencils, pens, erasers and markers.

For the past two weeks, meanwhile, Heriot and her staff have been handing out similar coupons to every customer who brings in two cans of food to donate to FOOD for Lane County. That campaign continues through Saturday.

Then, beginning on Sunday and through all next week, Heriot plans to donate a percentage of sales to the Springfield Education Foundation.

Also, throughout the month, customers have been signing up for weekly drawings to win gift baskets. A number of Washburne's suppliers - including McDonald Wholesale Co., Cascade Estate Coffees, LaVelle Vineyards and The Bread Stop - have been providing items for the gift baskets.

Heriot, a former human resources representative, and her husband, Jeff, purchased the Washburne Cafe - named for the historic district it abuts - from founder Karen Hageman, who operated the business for about a year and a half.

"We wouldn't be successful without the community around us," Heriot said. "So it's kind of a give-back. They supported us our first year, and these three organizations have all lost funding due to the economy. So that's what we came up with."

In her first year, she's steadily built what she calls a "foundation of regulars," many of whom rave about the cafe and wonder how they'd missed it before.

"The cafe's been here for more than two years," Heriot said. "But people don't always look at downtown Springfield."

That, she hopes, is changing, slowly but surely. The closure of some troublesome bars, and the emergence of new commercial, education and theater venues in the downtown core has given rise to that optimism.

"No one's an island here," Heriot said. "It's all interactive, all interdependent."


Where: 326 Main St.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays

Contact: Marilou Heriot, 541-746-7999

Nonprofit campaigns: Now through Saturday, bring two cans of food to donate to FOOD for Lane County; next week, a percentage of sales will go to Springfield Education Foundation
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Title Annotation:Springfield Extra
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 20, 2012
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