Bene’s, a new breakfast spot in Cheney, specializes in eggs Benedict. There are 10 varieties on the menu. But the chef and owner couldn’t tell you his favorite. He gets breakfast without his restaurant’s main ingredient.
“I’m egg-intolerant,” he said. “It’s weird.”
When Derek Baziotis eats at Bene’s he likes to get the breakfast burrito stuffed with chorizo sausage, ham or bacon, cheese, green peppers and onions. It usually comes with two eggs. But they’re easily left out.
That isn’t the case with most dishes at Bene’s. Besides assorted Benedicts, in which eggs are essential, there are breakfast sandwiches with eggs and classic two-egg breakfasts. Think bacon and eggs, steak and eggs, chicken-fried steak and eggs, and more.
The mom-and-pop breakfast and lunch cafe, opened in September, is run by Baziotis and his wife, Alexx. He oversees the kitchen and menu. She manages the front of the house, greeting and serving guests.
She started working at Kalico Kitchen, which her husbands’ parents own, when she was still in high school, just like he had done before he left for military service. Charlie and Teri Baziotis still run the Gonzaga University Bulldog-themed breakfast spot on North Division Street.
Derek Baziotis, 29, started there as a dishwasher during his sophomore year. He also took culinary classes through Spokane Public Schools’ skill center and still lists his former instructor, Bill Allen, as a mentor and inspiration.
After graduating from University High School in 2006, he spent four years in the Navy. About half of that time, he said, he was at sea aboard the U.S.S. Comstock. He did three deployments, which took him to Hawaii, Thailand, Australia, Qatar, Oman and the Maldives, among other destinations.
“That experience just changes your life,” said Derek Baziotis, who was born and raised in Spokane.
He spent most of his time in the Navy cooking for officers as a third-class culinary specialist. After getting out, he went back to work at his parents’ restaurant, where he “met this beautiful waitress.”
Alexx Baziotis, 25, graduated from Shadle Park in 2010. By then, she had already worked at the cafe for about two years. She was a server. He was the floor manager. Shortly after they married, in August 2014, she went to work at the Boiler Room pizza place in North Spokane and he went to work at the Backyard Public House and Remedy Kitchen and Tavern.
They also dreamed of owning their own cafe, being their own bosses and working together again. Last spring, skimming through Craiglist, they found an ad for the space in Cheney. “I came and looked at it, and I said, ‘This is the spot,’ ” Derek Baziotis said.
The couple signed a five-year lease for the building, located on the main drag, just west of downtown, and took over in early August. They repainted, installed new carpet, brought in some new kitchen equipment, swapped out some of the old table tops before opening Sept. 1.
There’s room for 50 in the casual dining room. Walls are painted like eggs: yolky yellow on the bottom, eggshell white on top. A daily special is written on brown butcher paper that hangs from a roll on the wall.
There’s a classic eggs Benedict with two eggs, thinly sliced ham and Hollandaise sauce over a grilled English muffin. The California version includes turkey, avocado and sun-dried tomato Hollandaise sauce. Look, also, for the chorizo Benedict with sausage, onions, avocado, tomato and avocado cream Hollandaise with a hint of lime over a fried tortilla; the Fireman’s Benedict with sausage, roasted pepper, jalapeños and Sriracha Hollandaise sauce; and the pulled-pork Benedict with slaw and barbecue Hollandaise over a biscuit.
Rounding out the menu are waffles – bacon, huckleberry, strawberry, banana, blueberry, pecan. chocolate chip or ice cream – and a scramble called The Eagle with home fries, peppers, onions, toast and your choice of meat. Also on the menu: The Cure-All, which comes with three eggs, a waffle, hash browns, toast and your choice of meat.
The coffee comes from Craven’s. Tortillas come from DeLeon Foods.
Derek Baziotis already plans to expand; he wants to open outlets in Pullman and Moscow and other spots to make Bene’s an Inland Northwest chain.
Meantime, there are nine employees, plus the two owners. “We’re up at 4; we’re here by 5,” said Alexx Baziotis.
For lunch, find a handful of wraps, sandwiches, soups, salads and burgers. But don’t expect to see any omelets. They’re the specialty at Kalico Kitchen, and Derek Baziotis doesn’t want to step on his parents’ toes – or the place where they both got their start.