Buck's: The breakfast spot of champions

The Woodside diner that's all the rage with VCs and journalists makes a perfect party locale for "The Nudist on the Late Shift."

Published June 25, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

The restaurant Buck's of Woodside is a study in constructed American kitsch, with solitary cowboy boots adorning the counters and model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, along with an astronaut or two; a miniature Statue of Liberty welcomes visitors at the front door. On the walls hangs a hodgepodge of tubas, unicorns, bullfighting outfits, paintings of Che Guevara and at least one giant ketchup bottle.

Buck's is, essentially, a diner in a small town populated by equal parts horses and sport utility vehicles. But because it is near both the venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road and the million-dollar Woodside mansions where many of those flush entrepreneurs live, Buck's has become "legendary" in Silicon Valley. It's become a place where deals happen and venture capitalists bestow their billions on gratefully indebted startups; and it's the place where reporters gobble up local color and story leads.

Its celebrity is relatively recent; until just a few years ago Buck's was merely a watering hole and pancake-breakfast provider for the locals. But Buck's has "buzz" now -- in the last few weeks alone, the restaurant has won a mention in Fortune, a profile in the latest Wired magazine and accolades in Business Week, GQ and several newspapers. And the recent launch of BucksWoodside.com, where proprietor Jamis MacNiven provides gossip on the latest luminaries to walk in the door, has brought a new spate of media attention.

Buck's also garnered top billing in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine profile of wunderkind venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson -- written by Silicon Valley celebrity author Po Bronson -- after Jurvetson donated a cozy breakfast with himself at Buck's for a charity fundraiser (and brought in $4,400).

In a dij` vu moment, both Jurvetson and Bronson were on hand Wednesday night at Buck's, for the launch of Bronson's new book "The Nudist on the Late Shift." The party, put on by Wired magazine (which features a chiseled Bronson on the cover of its July issue), was almost an ode to the buzz factory that turned "this ol' greasy spoon" -- as Buck's owner modestly refers to his down-home dive -- into the breakfast spot for champions. Packed with reporters, publicists, futurists, venture capitalists and what must have been the entire editorial staff of Wired, Buck's served up tepid fried calamari and greasy quesadillas while Bronson hefted a box of non-disclosure agreements and boasted about the 44 pounds of them he had to sign -- many over breakfast at Buck's, no doubt -- while reporting his new nonfiction tome.

Of course MacNiven, who never seems to miss an industry event these days (especially with so many taking place at his restaurant), was there, schmoozing it up. By Thursday morning MacNiven had posted his own take on the Wired party to the Buck's site, saluting the crowd as "one snappy collection of individuals" and "a class act." All those journalists might not have had the kind of VC bucks that Buck's is used to hosting, but a party full of media-makers was still worth a warm and fuzzy mention. Hey -- what goes around comes around, right?

By Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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