We all have special memories of our favorite eating places and hangouts. Some of these very special memories are of a big barn-shaped with a silo and bright red and yellow sign. This popular eatery and hangout for mid-century Americans was known as the Red Barn Restaurant.
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Red Barn restaurants were a chain of fast-food restaurants founded in 1961 in Akron, 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 restaurant chain was first established in the mid-1960s by a group of partners who wanted to create a family-friendly restaurant chain. 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.
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.
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.
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. This signature sandwich was topped with a special sauce similar to the sauce used on The McDonald’s Big Mac.
If you were looking for a quick bite to eat, Red Barn restaurants were one of the most popular selections.
Red Barn Patrons
It’s restaurants were known for 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.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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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