By Chris Cunningham
Each morning, Eugene, Ore. restaurateur Joe Placido makes batches of organic fettuccine, linguini, spaghetti, and rigatoni, pushing the doughy balls of water, egg and semolina through his immense pasta machine.
By evening, large trays of pasta sit in the refrigerator, ready for boiling al dente and serving with traditional Italian sauces of tomato or Alfredo or butter and garlic, or selling retail.
Joe, a Lane Community College transfer student, is pleased that his Italian restaurant, eponymously named Placido’s Pasta Shop, is doing well just a year after its grand opening in January 2015.
As a high school student in Brookings-Harbor on the Oregon-California coastal border, Joe worked as a dishwasher after school and learned that he liked “being in the kitchen.” While attending Lane from 2000 through 2003, he “continued working on the trade of cooking” to pay his way through school.
Now working with six employees, Joe says the kitchen still is his favorite place to be.
Joe admits his earliest academic experiences at another community college and a university weren’t especially positive. But he says at Lane, where he was a pre-business major in the two-year Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree program, he experienced “a second chance to succeed.” While there, veteran instructor Bill Burrows influenced Joe’s decision to major in economics.
He transferred to University of Oregon before completing his AAOT, which is his only regret. The AAOT provides a more cost-effective way to complete general course requirements towards a four-year degree. “If you don’t take advantage of Lane’s AAOT program, you are doing yourself a disservice,” Joe says.
In 2005, he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the UO, and in 2007, a master’s degree in business through the University of Phoenix. All the while, Joe cooked in Italian restaurants.
When a business space opened in the Stellaria warehouse, located on the south side of Skinner Butte in Eugene, he decided it was time to operate his own Italian restaurant.
Joe now dreams of enlarging his restaurant as well as developing his wholesale pasta business OG noodles, currently a fledgling sister company to Placido’s Pasta Shop.
He wonders if his dreams might not be so big, if Lane hadn’t given him that “second chance.”