Red Barn – Where Did it Go?
Red Barn

Mid-century Americans knew The Red Barn Restaurant as a popular eatery and hangout. They have very special memories of a big barn-shaped with a silo and a bright red and yellow sign.

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Red Barn restaurants were a chain of fast-food restaurants founded in 1961 in Springfield, Ohio, United States. The first restaurant was called the Red Barn Family Restaurant. The chain expanded rapidly in the Midwestern United States during the 1970s. Ultimately, the chain grew to 300-400 franchise locations across the United States, Canada, and Australia.

The initial founder was Robert C. Norman, who had previously worked as a Franchise Manager for McDonald’s. The chain was originally part of the gift shop and restaurant Norman operated in his father’s grocery store. In September 1961, the first stand-alone Red Barn restaurant opened on West Market Street in Akron.

Video: Red Barn Commercial 1977

About The Restaurant

When the hungeries hit, hit the Red Barn.” This was the catchy advertising slogan used by the restaurant chain. Popular Red Barn cartoon characters, Big Fish Hungery, Hamburger Hungery, and Chicken Hungery were featured in television and print ads.

red barn logo

In the 1960s, a popular meal including 3 pieces of fried chicken, fries, cole slaw, and a roll, was advertised as a restaurant favorite for just 99 cents! It was also the first and one of the only fast-food chains to offer a self-service salad bar.

Gift Shop
Gift Shoppe

Big Barney

Red Barn Big Barney

The restaurant featured a barn-like facade with a silo, weather vane, and hay bales. The chain became known for its Barnbuster or Big Barney sandwiches, a double-decker sandwich consisting of two beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a hamburger bun. The chef topped the signature sandwich with a special sauce that was similar to the sauce used on The McDonald’s Big Mac.

Red Barn prices

If you were looking for a quick bite to eat, Red Barn restaurants were one of the most popular selections.

Red Barn dining room

Red Barn Patrons

Its restaurants attracted a diverse customer base due to their casual atmosphere, reasonably priced menu items, and friendly service.

The chain was particularly popular with families with young children, as it was one of the few restaurant chains that offered a kids’ menu.

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While families regularly frequented the restaurants, The Red Barn was also a popular hangout for teenagers. Students enjoyed coming together at the restaurant regularly on weekdays after school as well as on weekends.

Red Barn interior

Red Barn – The End Of An Era

In the late 1970s, the chain began to experience financial difficulties, and by the early 1980s, the majority of the restaurants had closed down. When blockbuster fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King hit the ground running, the Red Barn chain found they could not keep up with the deep pockets of these large corporations.

Red Barn retro parking lot

After most of the restaurants had closed, a few franchise locations remained open in Australia and the U.S., in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These locations became known as “The Farm” and maintained the same barn-shaped design as the original Red Barn restaurants.

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Red Barn restaurants remain a staple in American history and will forever be a piece of mid-century American nostalgia. Whether you were a young child, a teenager, or an adult, if you were lucky enough to have lived in this unforgettable era, you hold your memories close to your heart. This was the age of the birth of the fast food restaurant, and undoubtedly, some of these memories include frequent stops at these much-loved eating places.

Red Barn Steak

The Red Barn was one of those places that will have a place forever in the hearts of many Americans who lived during those years.

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21 responses to “Red Barn – Where Did it Go?”

  1. Liz Binns Avatar
    Liz Binns

    Sure do miss this place

  2. Ryan D Downs Avatar

    God bless.

  3. Fran Podlesney Avatar
    Fran Podlesney

    It was my first job. Worked there 1968- 1969. Glenolden PA store

  4. Joan r. Avatar
    Joan r.

    The red barn and carroll’s hamburgers were two of my three favorite 1960s fast food places..along with mike’s/neba’s submarine and roast beef shop combos….i have always hated that mcdonald’s bullied them all out of the picture….all three were the best of the pack….but two disappeared entirely and carroll’s name and tasty food menu got traded in for the burger king name and a greasy mess of unappetizing menu items…so sad…

  5. Michael Lee Avatar
    Michael Lee

    None of the origin story here is true. It was founded in Springfield, Ohio (in 1961) by Jim Kirsch, Don Six and Martin Levine, and the first restaurant was on route 40 on the west end of Springfield. I know, my father was the first executive they hired to sell franchises and he eventually became President in about 1970.

  6. Nancy Avatar

    Was my first job at age sixteen in Elyria,Ohio on Cleveland Street. Ted Jacobs was the owner and Gordy Hales was the manager. Great food and great employees!! I worked the salad bar many times. It will always be a part of my life. Worked five years during high school and college!!

    1. DL Avatar

      I remember that location. Across from Hill’s department store and Burger King.

  7. Jeff Hoffert Avatar
    Jeff Hoffert

    The McDonald’s Quarter Pounder doesn’t have a special sauce. It has Catsup. The Big Mac has a special sauce.

  8. Michael Matern Avatar
    Michael Matern


    1. Becky21k Avatar

      That one actually was used for other things through about 2010. Then Walgreens came in and knocked it down. You can still see it in the 2007 Google street view images.

  9. Steve A. Avatar
    Steve A.

    I was good for 2 Big Barneys just about every Friday night. The sauce in my opinion was better than the Big Macs. I visited the one on Charlotte Pk. in West Nashville TN. We need some investors to bring them back!

  10. Bk Avatar

    Lotta memories , have the big yellow stain glass sign that hung above check out area. When they were closing asked if it was for sale. I paid 20.00 and its still hanging in my pool room. Its like 4’ long 18” wide framed in wood with yellow glass and the bright red barn in the middle . Forgot what year they closed , had to be late 70’s early 80’s . .

  11. Thomas P. Owens Sr. Avatar
    Thomas P. Owens Sr.

    Great memories from High School when groups would stop by Red Barn after football games. A food fight broke out once! Wish there was footage of that! Marlow Heights, Md

  12. Sandra Avatar

    Red Barn was my first job! I worked as a hostess. I loved their salad bar and burgers

  13. […] KFC has come a long way since its humble beginnings in Kentucky. The company is now one of the largest fast food restaurant chains in the world. With over 25,000 locations in 145 countries, there’s a good chance you’ve had a taste of the Colonel’s famous chicken. KFC is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., which also owns Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that KFC is a fast food legend. […]

    1. Lisa Avatar

      KFC is getting to expensive and there food is getting nasty the chicken is always greasy

  14. larryl Avatar

    that looked like Loni Anderson at the beginning of the TV commercial

  15. Robert abare Avatar
    Robert abare

    I used to go to the red barn on nolensville road back in the early 70tys in Nashville Tennessee,

  16. Tony Avatar

    My first job. Loved their chickrn and coleslaw

  17. Devin Avatar

    Every morning, right across from our high school in oak lawn Illinois on 95th and southwest highway

  18. Allen bell Avatar
    Allen bell

    what ever hapened to stop and go,from the 60ds? we use to go to 1 in scranton,pa, i herd there was 1 in philly as well.

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