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Special Silicon Valley Issue | Metropolis / Passing

Let's Make a Deal

March 09, 2003|ALEX PHAM

Conveniently located in Woodside, between the San Francisco skyscrapers and the sprawling office parks of Silicon Valley, Buck's Restaurant is a quirky, memorabilia-filled eatery that doubles as home away from home for many an SV player. Buck's sits a mile off the 280 Freeway, dubbed the "Lexus Freeway" after the luxury cars ferrying flush entrepreneurs and venture capitalists around the Bay Area. Many of those cars still stop at Buck's, named for the stuffed buffalo head above the bar. On a recent visit the parking lot is lined with three BMWs, two Mercedeses, one Lexus and a Porsche 911 with a license plate that reads: "52WK HI." Despite the slowdown in Silicon Valley deal-making, business is hopping even on a Monday morning.


Brian Jacobs

41, venture capitalist,

Emergence Capital Partners

How often do you come here?

About twice a week for about five years now.

What are you here for this morning?

I just met with a friend, a successful entrepreneur. We were just catching up. It's a convenient place to meet.

How have things changed at Buck's in the last year or two?

During the bubble, there'd be lines going out the door, except Mondays. These days, it's not hard to find a table.

What's it like coming here?

I always run into people I know. Some tables are so close together that you'd end up right next to another VC, and you could hear their conversations.

Do you avoid listening in?

People pull out their laptops and PDAs and pretend to be working, but you do end up overhearing a lot.

Ever picked up good tips that way?

(Laughs) No comment.


Kate Parnes

56, director,

South East Consortium for Special Education

How long have you been coming to Buck's?

More than 15 years or so? Then it was a greasy spoon called the Stagecoach.

How would you describe Buck's now?

Like a high-end flea market. It's not chichi, like L.A. It's anti-chichi.

Do you ever see famous people here?

I saw Steve Wozniak [co-founder of Apple Computer Inc.] here a month ago. We used to see Joe Montana [former 49ers quarterback] here a lot.

Has the dot-com bust hit you?

Indirectly. We depend on the state tax rolls for revenue. The school budgets have been devastated.

What is best about Buck's?

Every birthday they give you an ice cream sundae. They come out with an accordion and a French horn. They sound terrible. It's fantastic.


Gordon Kruberg

42, entrepreneur

How long have you been coming to Buck's?

Years. I came here before it was even Buck's.

Why do you come here?

This is my office. I pull out my laptop and work at least one morning a week.

Your fondest memory of Buck's?

I started a company called Schoolpop here. It helps schools do fund-raising. It's my fondest memory because it's my favorite company.

How did you start it?

A friend called and wanted to discuss an idea. I said, "Great, let's meet at Buck's for a cup of coffee." It turned out to be a four-hour cup of coffee.

How many companies have you started?

More than 30. When I was a VC, I helped or invested in another two dozen. I just sold one of my companies a couple of weeks ago. Then I took a vacation, and today is my first day back.


Ervin Booker

50, finance group principal,

Reel Finance Group

Why are you here today?

To have my breakfast and get caught up in the mergers and acquisitions news. I'm reading this periodical called "The Deal."

What do you do?

I raise funds to produce independent films. It's funny to have a Northern California company raising funds for films, but that's what we do.

Give us an example of doing business at Buck's.

Right before Christmas, a couple of guys came to pick my brain about film financing. We went on for a good three hours.

That's a long time. Buck's didn't try to rush you out?

They never hurry you. It's part of the reason people come here.

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