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Our Café hopes to be your café in Banks

New restaurant on Main Street serves breakfast, lunch and dinner

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Matt Farag and Melissa Nash Farag run Our Cafe in Banks and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner -- all from scratch. Matt Farag’s parents didn’t know they’d spark the passion that would frame the rest of their son’s life when they bought him his first cookbook nearly 30 years ago — but that’s what happened.

The book was geared toward kids, Farag said, which put him in the kitchen making macaroni and cheese and spaghetti and meatballs. “I fell in love. Cooking has always been a part of me,” he said. “I started playing with flavors and having fun.”

Now he’s making homemade biscuits and gravy, braised short ribs and shrimp scampi at Our Café in Banks, formerly known as Banks Café. Farag, his wife Melissa Nash Farag and his mother-in-law Ellie Dille opened it about six weeks ago.

The chatter around town and on social media has been positive, touting the establishment’s fresh ingredients, cleanliness and customer service.

“They’re doing a real good job putting out real good food,” said Banks resident Mark Schmidlin, who goes for breakfast on Saturdays and said they have the best pancakes he’s ever had.

“The first time I ate here I got addicted,” said Visanou Thephomma, a Banks High School student who stopped in after school recently to get a grilled cheese sandwich. “This is the best restaurant in town.”

“They have good food,” said Jared Ford, another after-school patron who likes the cheeseburgers. “It’s pretty legit.”

Farag said his specialties are his pulled pork sandwiches with house-made barbecue sauce and coleslaw and another with jalapeños and pepper jack cheese. “I like the versatility of food,” Farag said. “The possibilities are literally endless.”

After decades working everything from catering gigs with the Wolfgang Puck restaurant to cooking for 2,000 people a night at a Los Angeles homeless shelter, Farag moved to Oregon from California with his family to make his dream of opening a food cart a reality. After two years of working in downtown Portland’s Mama Mia Tattoria, Farag heard about a little place for sale in Banks, a town they had never heard of.

The goal had always been to start out with a food cart and eventually open a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but Farag decided to skip a step. “What better way to start?” Farag said. “Why live with regrets and not ever open your own place?”

Farag doesn’t mind the 65-hour weeks, early mornings and hard work. “I’m finally able to put out the food I want to put out,” Farag said. “I get to do the food I want and not be too pretentious.”

The café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner five days a week and offers Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A Bloody Mary bar will open soon. Farag is also planning to

partner with local vineyards and make special dishes to pair with the wines.

“I want to be that staple in Banks. I want to be that place people go to,” Farag said. “I want people to know when they come here they know what they’re going to get.”

While the spot has seen some turnover through the years, Farag is in

for the long haul. His two kids, ages 7 and 11, love the Banks schools and Farag and his wife love the small town.

“This isn’t just another place filling in for the next spot,” Farag said. “When people come here, I want people to feel at home.”

Check it out

What: Our Café

Where: 13310 N.W. Main St. in Banks

Contact: 503-992-9444

Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday brunch: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.