“What’s more western than a barn?” and, “Did you know that empty lot behind the Saloon is for sale?” Throw in a powder skiing day at Tam Rim and a bar napkin, and you have a pretty good idea of how The Barn In Sisters came to life. The idea was to create a place where art, craftsmanship, quality, and service come together in a rustic, yet refined Sisters community experience. Ten months later, here we are, finishing our first summer at The Barn, and what a journey it’s been!
The goal behind the Barn is to build and strengthen our local food economy from farmers to vendors that share our same values of organic practices and high quality ingredients, and at the same time, create a space for the Sisters community to gather and surround itself with art in multiple mediums. From the design of the barn and the property itself to the food, artwork, sculpture, music, and landscaping, The Barn is a place for the community to share and build beauty together. We do not have TVs because the intention is for people to authentically engage with each other and the space itself. We are trying to build our own little ecosystem, if you will, where our values thrive and are shared. This space is the setting. Community creates a place, and a place creates a community - “beauty and community.”
Opening in November, we slowly moved through our first winter season, usually huddled around the wood stove. At first it was just Boone Dog Pizza, but new food carts, Pop’s Southern BBQ, Chulitas, and Wrap Star eventually started to set up shop and complete the space. Spring was unusually late this year and most folks gathered around our fire pits, discovering and enjoying their new place. The cold nights slightly delayed the beginning of our concert season, but then summer finally arrived bringing with it hot days and a steady influx of visitors from out of town. Initially we hunkered under the shade of the junipers until the the late afternoons, but slowly our tents and umbrellas started to arrive and the place began to grow and flourish. The plants started to bloom, more people starting calling the place home, and the music nights became community events.
There’s a reason we hear so many people say, “everyone here is always smiling.”
Throughout this time The Barn continued to grow, with most of our improvements this summer coming outside. First, let’s start with the property itself. Increasing our seating capacity was number one on the list. Juggling all the supply and shipping issues that are now inescapable, we started adding tables and chairs, and eventually built our picnic tables that are now situated in two locations on the property. In addition to the tents and umbrellas to provide shade for the tables, we fashioned a sunshade over the stage for the incredible bands that made Thursday and Saturday nights so special. And finally, we are now seeing the rewards of our landscaping program. What was once a large mound of dirt is now supported with boulders, features a flat stone foot path traversing over the top that the kids love, and is decorated with grasses, cherry trees and a sprawling pumpkin plant. Additionally, the vegetables and herbs along the NE corner of the property are in their full, late summer flourish.
Inside we have made improvements as well. We switched the drink board from butcher paper to metal with magnetic removable plates. Ceiling fans have been added to work with the monitor barn design to lift heat up into the clearstory and out the top windows. Our signage has increased with minimal, clean styling to identify the ordering location and the two bus stations. We upgraded to a larger ice making machine and added a wine fridge upstairs in the office to better maintain bottle temperatures while in storage. But probably the most significant upgrade was the additional walk-in cooler, giving us more space for food ingredients and more keg storage to keep up with our thirsty guests.
Over at Boone Dog Pizza we built an addition to the food cart that now acts as our order station to make more workspace for the team inside to create. The next project involves extending the wood stove out to create more room for maneuvering the pizza peel inside the cart. Pop’s and Chulitas are still with us, but we have added a new favorite, a women owned, vegan food cart called Rootbound, giving us a strong balance in our food offerings. All of the carts are award winners known for their quality, and places with excellent reputations and followings.
Here at The Barn we are committed to the quality of our ingredients in our food and beverages, and to the art of creating flavorful fares for your enjoyment. All of our food ingredients are sourced from organically certified local farms that do not use pesticides and utilize organic farming practices. For our cocktails, we make our own syrups and combine them with soda water for our mixers rather than use prepackaged versions, and all of our juices are USDA certified organic from Columbia Gorge Organic Juices. These choices are instrumental to our primary mission, and both strengthen our local food economy and create the flavors for which we are known.
The last ten months have been a blur. As our place was growing, we would joke that “everyday is Christmas,” as we made improvements one step at a time. Our staff has become a family of friends who enjoy being together, prioritize authenticity, and enjoy serving the community. We’re a team with diverse backgrounds, but one that believes in the mission of The Barn and thrives in the creative environment we have built together. There’s a reason we hear so many people say, “everyone here is always smiling.” Being new, we have patiently steered everyone through the counter service concept indoors and the independent nature of the food trucks outside. On the beverage front, we have been a little surprised at the popularity of the cocktail program, but look to build on its success with new, seasonal selections. We want to continue to offer the best beers and organic, natural wines available across a variety of styles, and aim to increase our staff’s knowledge to answer all your questions such as how they’re made, how these differences create unique styles and flavors, and how they best pair with food.
With cooler weather on the horizon, plans for our second winter season are underway. Currently we are researching ways to create more enclosed and heated seating on the NE lawn. We also want to continue the concert series in some capacity and are exploring our best options in terms of frequency and location on the property. Finally, the culinary team is experimenting with new ways to enhance the food experience both inside and at Boone Dog Pizza, including the return of fresh baked bread on Fridays and Saturdays starting in November.
Thank you for helping us make The Barn in Sisters a special place. A place that is surrounded in beauty where we gather to be present with each other to share with our neighbors and friends. A place where together, we build a community.