Chow Down(Town) Springfield

Mitchel Hescheles’ grandfather woke every morning at 2:30, tending his farm before heading to work at a factory. After retiring, he refused to get out of bed before 11:11 am. Hescheles is unclear why his granddad picked such an arbitrary time, but he decided to pay homage to his hardworking grandpa when opening Chow, his new restaurant on South A Street in downtown Springfield. 

Chow opens daily at 11:11 am. Hescheles calls Chow a gastropub: “Taking pub food to the next level,” Hescheles says. And Chow certainly delivers, offering interesting twists on classic sandwiches like The Club (lemon-poached chicken, Coke-boiled ham, brown sugar bacon, cheddar, Swiss, tomato compote, crisp lettuce and arugula, smeared with “piggy” mayo) and burgers like the Altman (blue cheese pesto, Swiss, fresh spinach and onion jam). 

Hescheles has his meat ground fresh daily and makes his own buns. Chow’s burgers shouldn’t need ketchup, Hescheles says. The house-made sauces should be enough. Hescheles believes when you eat an organic roll you should know it. “It’s a visceral experience,” he says.

Hescheles had many detours on the road to opening Chow. He attended culinary school out of high school and ran a restaurant in downtown Springfield for a few years “at the height of the meth problem,” Hescheles says. After riding out the lease on his first establishment, Hescheles cut his losses and joined the Army at the age of 35 — tempted by the generous signing bonus. “It’s about life experiences,” Hescheles explains.

After returning from service, Hescheles decided that the time was right to try again. Downtown Eugene and Springfield are undergoing an urban culture and small business renaissance, and food is a big part of it. Hescheles felt that if downtown Springfield is now worth a business investment like Plank Town Brewing Company, he’d give his dream of being a restaurateur another go.

One of Chow’s most popular sandwiches is The B.A.B. (brie, grated Granny Smith apple, brown sugar bacon and Swiss on grilled bread). The sandwich comes with fries — choice of truffle and sea salt, garlic and Parmesan, Cajun or house-seasoned. 

But The B.A.B. — served with truffle fries and a pint of amber from Eugene-based Claim 52 Brewery — is crispy, gooey, sweet, tart and ridiculously good. If this is the taste of new Springfield gastronomy, the downtown renaissance is going to deliver a duomo’s worth of great tastes.

Chow is open for lunch 11:11 am to 2:30 pm Monday through Sunday, for dinner 5 to 8 pm Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 9 pm Friday and Saturday, at 471 S A St. in Springfield, 653-9193. Moe’s (next door), which features Chow’s full menu, is open from 11:11 am to 11 pm Sunday through Thursday and 11:11 am to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Pictured above: The Helfrich (double patty stuffed with potato chips with bacon, swiss and pepperjack pimento cheese spread)

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