As the first rays of dawn creep over the eastern horizon Shelly Dixon steps from her car, a list of daily tasks swimming in her head. The most important thing to do after turning on the lights is start the coffee and warm the cups for the early morning group, affectionately known as the Coffee Guys. As the smell of coffee slowly fills the room, Shelly heads to the kitchen. Flipping switches on the grill, deep fryers, toasters, warming pans, and whatever else she has hidden in her arsenal of kitchen gadgets, Shelly gets ready for another day.
As I pull up to 1400 Airport Way, I notice three things at the same time – the parking lot is full, the smell of bacon cooking makes my mouth water, and the heavenly aroma of coffee is wafting on the early morning air. Walking into Lana’s Hangar Café is like stepping into my grandmother’s kitchen. Friendly voices call a cheery good morning and a cup of coffee magically appears as if everyone in the room knows that’s priority one. I instantly feel like I’m home.
Lana’s Hangar Café, at Bowerman Field in Hoquiam, has been dishing up great food for more then twenty years. Famous with locals and tourist alike for their hand dipped, old fashion ice cream milk shakes and the best darn hamburgers on the Harbor, it’s a hometown friendly place. A group of wisecracking waitresses, who freely joke with long time customers and new visitors alike and not one or two, but several good-looking young men who can cook, staff the restaurant.
Friday night the crew serves up Prime Rib with all the fixings. If you haven’t been to Lana’s Hangar Café yet, let me tell you, the menu has nothing in common with a burger joint. This little blue building at the airport, serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week and offers a wide range of menu items, each and every one as delicious as the next.
I asked Shelly if she would mind answering a few questions, she graciously agreed:
Q. Tell me about Lana’s Hangar Café?
A. “We’re a family friendly place. The kids love to sit in the back room to eat so they can watch the planes take off and land. This place is like home, people just seem to feel comfortable here.”
Q. I’ve heard you like to joke and banter with your customers, is that true?
A. “Yes. It’s all part of the atmosphere around here. We even have regulars who get upset if they don’t get their daily dose of insults. It’s all in good fun and well, we’re a family and you know how families can be when no ones looking.”
Q. There is a lot of memorabilia on the walls. Did you collect all this?
A. “No. Our customers bring us this stuff. We have the airplane room in the back, the hot rod pictures here in the front, and we created the Betty Boop wall to make it easier for people to take pictures. It’s an odd mix, but people seem to love it. (One of the customers leans over and tells me to use the word “quaint” in the article.) “It’s a quaint place,” he tells me.
Q. What is your favorite thing about Lana’s Hangar Café?
A. “The customers. No doubt.”
Q. Lastly, what do you want people to know about you?
A. Wow, hmmm – I’m sexy, friendly, funny, I accept gifts and um, did I say sexy yet?” (At this point most of the customers join in as Shelly starts laughing.) “You’re not going to print that are you?” she asked me as I continued to write.
I’m sure there is a lot more I could tell you about Lana’s Hangar Café, but seriously you need to experience the place for yourself. As the crew at the restaurant would say: “Next time you’re in Hoquiam, come in for a landing at Lana’s Hangar Café.”
I agree and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.