Owners depart but the bread stops here

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2001

Fans of from-scratch corned beef hash and homemade hamburger buns need not despair.

Barry and Carlene Shaw are leaving BaCar's restaurant after eight years at the favorite downtown eatery, but they are teaching the new cook, Tracy Harmon, how to make everything on the old menu.

The Shaws got into the restaurant business 20 years ago, when they were fed up with life in the fast lane in Los Angeles.

"We lived in a shack in the woods in a real small town in Washington," Barry recalled. "It was wonderful but there was no work at all. However, a little restaurant came up for sale and we bought it and I had to learn to cook."

While serving soup and cutting lettuce, cabbage, broccoli for salad Carlene said, "We just wanted to get out of the city and just kept heading north after that. Barry is very adventurous and it's hard keeping up with him."

Barry Shaw is especially known for his homemade bread: white, raisin, sourdough and rye, plus hamburger buns.

"I don't know of anybody else who makes hamburger buns in Juneau, and it took a long, long time to learn," he said. "We don't use mixers; everything is made by hand. It's an excellent workout."

Having a BLT on homemade bread makes it "a whole different story," and brings customers back for years on end, he said.

Although Carlene Shaw was literally tearful as she said good-bye to customers on Friday morning, the Shaws got an offer they couldn't refuse: running BaCar's on the new state ferry between Ketchikan and Hollis.

"I have cooked on a five-man fishing boat in the Bering Sea with 30-foot waves," Barry Shaw said. "After that, cooking on a ferry should be a walk in the park."

Although they just bought a house here, the Shaws decided to move to Hollis. Their son Roy will move to Hollis to work on the ferry with them, bringing his wife and their newborn daughter, Meadow Rain - the Shaws' first grandchild.

BaCar's seats 40. The ferry's dining room seats 56, while the vessel can carry 150 passengers. "We'll rotate them through," Barry Shaw said with a smile.

Hal and Leslie Daugherty came in Friday to wish the Shaws well. Hal has been eating breakfasts and lunches here since BaCar's opened. Leslie has been a customer for the last four or five years. "We bring our bed-and-breakfast guests down here," said Hal. The couple owns the Highlands Bed & Breakfast.

"We love it here," Leslie said. "It's down-home cooking, massive quantities - love that corned beef hash. We come here on Sunday mornings and see the same people. It's a hidden treasure that the locals know about. And Carlene is one of the workingest waitresses ever."

"In the summer you can walk the flume trail and eat breakfast here and then do the rest of the loop and work it off," Hal Daugherty noted.

Jewelry designer and attorney Bill Spear has been ordering the Denver Omelet for five or six years. "But sometimes I can't decide," Spear said, as a steaming platter of hash was whisked in front of him. "We have them trained to bring the Tabasco sauce," he added.

As she tucked into her breakfast, Susan Kirkness described BaCar's as "good food, wonderful people - the hardest-working people I have ever seen."

BaCar's is always open on Christmas Eve, and will be open until 3 p.m. this afternoon.

On Friday, Eric Magnuson was depressed that he had just discovered BaCar's. "I am so upset because I didn't know about this place," Magnuson said, confronting one of Barry's cinnamon rolls, which hung over the edges of its dessert plate. "This is my favorite-style place."

Customers came and went, departing with hugs from Carlene Shaw. Spear suggested that the new ferry should be moored on a sand bar in the Juneau harbor so he could continue to order his favorite dishes.

BaCar's will be closed Dec. 25 and 26, and open with a new coat of paint and new owners, Harmon and his wife, Mary Frances Roberts, on Dec. 27. It will henceforth be known as TraMar's Franklin Street Diner.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.

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