Joe Buck offers breakfast at new Lake Grove restaurant

by: VERN UYETAKE - The buck stops at Babica Hen Cafe when it comes to a great breakfast. Owner Joe Buck is ready to welcome waffle lovers and other food lovers to his new restaurant.The newest restaurant in Lake Grove is making passers-by ask a question: What is a Babica Hen?

The answer: Babica is Slovenian for grandmother, and owner Joe Buck’s grandmother always had an ornamental hen in her kitchen. It was a family heirloom from their Slovenian ancestors.

“Now I have it,” said Buck.

Grandma’s hen makes a handy symbol for Buck and his breakfast-lunch-coffee bar establishment, and he is aiming to have Babica Hen Café offer the freshest and best breakfast on Boones Ferry Road and beyond.

“Everything we do is in-house scratch,” Buck said. “The jam, sausage, batters, local eggs, natural beef. They’re all high quality and the best ingredients you can get.”

Babica Hen is the answer to a waffle lover’s prayer because it offers a wide and delicious variety of waffles. Other goodies on the menu are three different kinds of eggs Benedict, blueberrry brulee, French toast, chicken tostadas, pigs in a blanket, corned beef hash, plus coffee and pastries such as cinnamon rolls, coffee cake and sticky buns.

The staff matches the food in quality, since Buck’s hiring process was very long.

“We’re fortunate to have a great crew,” he said. “The staff is the most critical thing in the restaurant business.”

Buck’s restaurant bloodlines are the best. Babica Hen is located right smack dab next to Gubanc’s, one of Lake Oswego’s favorite restaurants for 37 years and owned by Buck’s family. Prior to Babica Hen, Gubanc’s was the only place where Buck ever worked.

“I started as a dishwasher,” Buck said. “I couldn’t wait to get started. I had every job there was.”

Babica Hen is as new as a freshly laid egg, but it has been in the works for a long time.

“My grandfather (Tony Gubanc) bought the building 15 years ago,” Buck said. “He always wanted a breakfast place. When the opportunity came we wanted to accomplish his wishes. We have such a large space that we’re able to do things we couldn’t do at Gubanc’s. Here, our bakery is in the basement.”

Buck is easy to recognize because he is the long, tall, friendly guy rushing around nonstop. He takes after his dad, Mike Buck, who has long been a business leader in Lake Grove. Buck was fortunate to enroll his dad as landscaper for Babica Hen.

Not only is Babica Hen promoting the cause of great breakfast eating, it is bringing art to Lake Grove, borrowing the Museum Without Walls approach used in downtown Lake Oswego. Today, the August Trunk (the metal elephant) will be unveiled at 5 p.m. by the Lake Oswego Fine Arts Council.

Babica Hen Cafe is located at 15964 Boones Ferry Road at the former location for La Provence. For more information, call 503 636-4012. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant has space available for rent in the evenings.

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