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Breakfast and a warm welcome at Sugar Pine Cafe

Breakfast starts at 6 a.m. at the Sugar Pine Company Café in Butte Falls. Pancakes, waffles, burritos, eggs any way you like them and coffee.

You might think that’s pretty early in the day to be up and about, but in Butte Falls it’s the start of the day for loggers, truckers and forest workers who need to fuel up before hitting the woods. Then after the rush, the regulars come in to while away an hour before getting on with their days. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m., so stop in for a bite before heading out to see the waterfall, the E.W. Smith Museum, the Caboose or continuing on down the road.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available at the cafe. Diners can choose to be seated inside or outside in a shaded bower in warmer weather. The restaurant looks like a classic country home inside, with banquette seating and lots of knotty pine paneling on the walls, ceiling and floors. On the bulletin board, there are photos of the big catch, a perfectly balanced log truck and the Lady Loggers Volleyball schedule.

The menu is right to the point: breakfast on one side and burgers and sandwiches on the other. Milk shakes too, in flavors such as blackberry, chocolate peanut butter and root beer. I wanted a blackberry shake, no matter it was 10 o’clock in the morning. There’s a specials board, and every day there's a different soup — on this day, Cory’s Spicy Meatloaf with her secret sauce and a baked potato were featured, with red velvet cake for dessert.

But I was hungry for breakfast. The Logger’s Favorite is a dinner plate-sized omelet, tender and filled with bacon, cheddar cheese, mushrooms and onions, topped with sour cream and salsa. The hash browns were griddle flat and crispy — not at all greasy — and the two slices of wheat toast were dripping with butter.

I inhaled the delicate French toast with powdered sugar, fresh strawberries and cream — a sweet contrast to the thick, salty bacon. The coffee is hot and strong. And unbelievably, the orange juice is icy cold in a frosted mug.

Sweet, savory, caffeine, citrus — all the major food groups.

Kelli was cooking and Chey kept running the plates out of the kitchen: burritos, oatmeal, scrambles, big fluffy biscuits in a sausage cream gravy. Vern came over to say hello before sitting down with friends. He wanted a bowl of soup and a half cup of coffee. Bill Tucker (he was the town marshall, now retired) shook my hand and waved hey to Vern. Two guys in camo talked about a forked-horn buck they saw and agreed to wait for the fryer to warm up. They wanted the Loggers’ Basket: a double burger with fries and lots of hot sauce. Chey served up more coffee and checked that everything was all right.

There’s a warmth in the air when you step into the Sugar Pine Cafe that has a lot to do with the good smells you’ll find there, and even more to do with the welcome. You’ll feel right at home.

The Sugar Pine is the center of this small town, a place where folks stop in for news, to air their views and grievances, share their stories and gossip away a morning. Sure, they’ll look at you a little funny at first, but you’ll be a stranger for all of five minutes. It won’t be long before Tom Wright’s telling you it’s OK to get up and get your own coffee at the back of the cafe — after all he made it fresh like he does every morning. Just don’t take Vern’s cup from the wall, or any of the others with names engraved on them. Debbie Fisher made those coffee cups special, every one.

The Sugar Pine Company Cafe is at 343 Broad St., and is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Call 541-865-3311 or see the cafe on Facebook.

Maureen Flanagan Battistella is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at mbattistellaor@gmail.com.

Orange juice, the Logger's Favorite, a side of French toast and coffee at the Sugar Pine Company Cafe in Butte Falls. [Photo by Maureen Flanagan Battistella]