The Campbell Club rocks on after run-ins with police

If you know anything about the Campbell Club, it probably has to do with either its hippies or its parties — and if you know anything about its parties, it’s that they tend to get broken up. In recent years, the co-op has had two notable run-ins with the police — one in 2008 and another this February. The first resulted in four arrests. The second, prompted by a noise violation, resulted in 23. While the co-op began hosting parties again fairly quickly after the first bust, it is still in the process of recovering from the second.

The Campbell Club is probably the University of Oregon’s foremost venue for live music, organizing open mics on Tuesdays and booking small bands to play parties that end up much larger than those bands’ average draws. But since the raid, the co-op has taken extreme care in organizing its events.

“We weren’t even sure if we wanted to keep having open mics,” said Max Kelner, current resident of the Campbell Club. “But we decided to because we just wanted to keep music accessible to people. I think that’s one of the driving forces behind this place — I mean, how many places can you see live music for five bucks, all ages?”

Not many, at least not this close to campus. That’s why, according to Kelner, bands were still banging on the Campbell Club’s proverbial door long after the raid. He describes one band that came by on their way to California a few weeks prior. “They asked if we could play a show here and we said we couldn’t get it together, but they still got together and played a show for the house,” he said.

Though the co-op’s reputation may be intact among musicians, it has suffered among those less familiar with its environs.

“It was interesting to see what people really thought of us,” said Cruz Castillo, a former Campbell Club resident. “KVAL did a story on us and we’d look at the comments. Some people really supported us, but other people … ”

Comments on the video run the spectrum from, “Our sad little country has turned into a police state,” to, “I’m glad all those people got arrested and I wish that more did.” Some say the KVAL video portrays the co-op in a negative light, splicing the anchors’ commentary with shots of empty bottles and Solo cups lying outside the building.

“I think we became more mythical,” Castillo said. “When people walk by this place they kind of stare at it. I think the raid helped create this mystery, because nobody really knows what happened.”

Resident Taylor Hulburt insists the celebrations will continue, though likely less often. The co-op has even hosted small parties after the raid — low-key affairs featuring acoustic acts. Residents didn’t even make a flyer for the first one. “It was nice that we were confident enough to throw another party and not be too shaken up by the police,” Castillo said.

But will there be more parties like the one police busted in February?

“I hope not,” Castillo said.

Cornbread Café: Vegan Comfort Food with a Retro Twist


— Anne Bucher, EDN

When I heard about the grand opening of the Cornbread Cafe, a restaurant that focuses on vegan comfort and soul food, I was intrigued. As an open-minded omnivore who was born and raised in meat-loving Texas, my curiosity of vegan food inspired me to visit the Cornbread Cafe for my first experience with a meatless meal.

As I entered the retro style diner, I immediately noticed the vivid, fun colors of the walls which thoroughly complemented the teal colored booths lined along the windows.The black and white checkered tile floor and stainless steel appliances tied together an old-fashioned diner feel that, I had a feeling, would reflect their cooking style. Slightly overwhelmed by their rather expansive menu, the build-your-own option quickly put me at ease.

I ordered the Chicken Fried Tempeh with country gravy, which was fried to perfection, mashed potatoes, Uncle Todd’s Greens, which was a tasty blend of spinach, Earth Balance Natural Spread, Agave nectar, soy sauce and lemon juice, and a surprisingly delicious slice of gluten-free jalapeno cornbread. Everything was scrumptious and full of flavor, and my first experience of a no meat and dairy meal prompted me to sit down with the owners, Sheree Walters and Kristy Hammond, to find out more about their notable operation.

Walters had worked in the restaurant industry for many years, and she dreamed of creating her own restaurant that would focus on delicious and creative vegan food. In 2009, she posted an ad on Craigslist seeking a vegan entrepreneur, and Hammond was the only one to respond. Drawn to soul food because of its history with community involvement and bringing people together, Hammond yearned to open a restaurant that would cater to everybody, regardless of their dietary concerns. When Walters and Hammond met, they discussed their ideas and both had similar visions of what they wanted, so the idea of  an inviting vegan restaurant, The Cornbread Cafe, was born.

Moral support can make all the difference.

Not wanting to take the financial risk of opening a brick and mortar restaurant, Walters and Hammond instead decided on opening a small food cart. The Cornbread Cafe Food Cart quickly gained popularity with its unique and delicious vegan food, and their loyal customers consistently urged them to open a full service restaurant. By the summer of 2011, Walters and Hammond decided it was time to expand their business, and together with the tireless efforts of friends and fans, the Deb’s Diner location at 7th and Polk was transformed into a nostalgic 1950’s style diner, The Cornbread Cafe. After being open only a few months in their new location, the Cornbread Cafe was voted as one of the top restaurants in Eugene.

Clearly impressed by their take on meatless deliciousness, I soon returned to try the popular Eugenewich, which is modeled after a fast-food bacon cheeseburger. This sandwich is stacked high with a southern fried tofu patty, melted Daiya cheddar, deep fried carrot slices, hand-breaded onion ring, shredded lettuce, tomato, and complemented with a delicious smoky sauce. Again, this meat eating gal was loving the Cornbread Cafe’s comfort food. So, on my third visit, I ordered the Phish Sticks and Crinkle Fries. Although the Phish Sticks were not made with real fish, the flavors brought back memories of one of my childhood favorites, and the crinkly fries were a nice touch that completed the down home diner feel.

With a clear goal in mind, Cornbread Café’s mission is to provide a consistent, comforting, and quality dining experience. Somehow they manage to provide excellent customer service while remaining a fun, affordable, sustainable, community oriented restaurant that serves awesome vegan comfort food. Walters and Hammond make everyone feel at home, even the omnivores like me, and as I continue to become acquainted with the vegan foods that intrigue me, I plan to spend a little more time at the Cornbread Cafe.

Cornbread Cafe
1290 West Seventh (and Polk)
Eugene, 97402