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Building The Barn - Napkin Story

Updated: Feb 14

“an underlying philosophy built on simplicity, quality, and local sourcing that would define both the food and the building”

The story of The Barn in Sisters is one partially about a bar napkin. It all starts with the original home of Boone Dog Pizza at Eurosports, where it was stationed for four years. Encouraged by the success of the food truck and the potential for the spot, Danny started to explore the idea of expanding the property and creating a hub for the Sisters community. He and his wife Kelly envisioned a place in Sisters that would take nourishment to a deeper level, focusing on quality, organic food and strengthening the local food economy - a place where people would gather to celebrate and enjoy food, beverages, and each other in a way that was more than just a place to eat. They soon recognized this vision was bigger than what the spot had to offer.

After realizing that something needed to change, providence stepped into the picture. A unique opportunity to acquire the land that would eventually become The Barn, became available. It was a big leap of faith that ultimately, they decided to embark on.

Danny and Kelly started to seriously consider the offer and became excited about the chance to manifest their vision for the Sisters community. They wanted to create a place where art, craftsmanship, quality and service would come together in a rustic, yet refined experience. They envisioned a place where not only the food, but the actual building and surrounding property would bring people together, creating a community where folks would engage with both each other and the space itself in an authentic way. They wanted to surround guests with art - the craftsmanship of the premises, the outdoor sculptures and landscaping, visual arts inside, and music in the evenings - and viewed the design of the property as building one giant sculpture. Danny and Kelly decided this property was their golden opportunity to realize this vision and purchased the property in January 2020.

It was during this time that Danny and Shane Fox, a good friend of Danny’s and an incredibly gifted builder/designer, went skiing one day out at Tam Rim. The snow was light, the turns were effortless, and the boys were stoked. Riding that pow day high, they stopped by Eurosports for a few beers and started to talk about the possibilities for the new place - what would it look like, what type of building would they construct, and how would everything fit within the building code for the town of Sisters? They talked about an underlying philosophy built on simplicity, quality, and local sourcing that would define both the food and the building. And they wanted to build it themselves. They knew doing so would be more work, but it would also be more authentic.

While they were tossing around ideas, Shane recommended a monitor barn for both its design characteristics and western style - I mean, what’s more western than a barn, right? The utility of a monitor barn is wrapped in its simplicity, its use of space, and openness. The main design benefit is how well it circulates air. In the summer the open doors push and the ceiling fans pull the warm air up the clearstory and out the top windows. The eaves add assistance by blocking the sun. The upper windows bring in more natural light, and in the winter they catch the sun’s warmth. Overall it is an efficient design with a classic look. They quickly agreed on a monitor barn design and started making sketches on a bar napkin (yes, THAT napkin).

“The team went through over twenty drafts before submitting five hand-drawn pages to the city for a 120 day review”

This act and that napkin changed everything for Danny and the team, and it’s why that napkin is central to the story of The Barn in Sisters. It was a pivotal moment because it marked the evolution of this vision from an idea to a goal, the manifestation of their desire to create a unique place for the Sisters community to gather and celebrate. No longer were they dreaming; now they were planning.

From the initial sketches on that bar napkin, the team of Danny, Kelly, and Shane started working on plans to submit to the Town of Sisters. They needed to submit a site analysis that included everything from the barn itself to water, sewage, landscaping, bathrooms, the stage, color, the orientation of the building, and the four food truck pods. They downloaded the Sisters building code and began conceptualizing the design of the barn and the layout of the property within those requirements to create a space that would become a place.

First, they checked out the other food carts in the area to see how guests interacted with the space and the food carts, paying particular attention to how the “flow of the place” created an experience. They wanted to create a better feeling of privacy and intimacy than what they saw, so the courtyard design included the nooks along the perimeter fencing. They also felt other places were generic, without any landscaping other than a perimeter of sorts. To create a different experience and make this place unique to Sisters, they decided to capitalize on one of Sisters’ primary characteristics - the forest. With the landscaping they wanted to “bring the forest into town,” so they designed the central mound with boulders, a grassy bank on its backside facing the stage, cherry trees, other plants and grasses, and a raised “L” shaped flower bed. They also wanted to have more space for each of the food truck pods, spacing them out to create more visibility for each one, and more room for guests.

Next was the design for the barn itself. They focused on both the structure and the space inside, with the intention of creating the feeling of being in an actual monitor barn. This idea shaped the entire layout of the interior; the space itself was the most important element, and everything else - the kitchen, bar, tables, and upstairs loft - was conceptualized as to how it fit in that space. Erecting the structure would employ a bent configuration, or bent wall design, which uses posts, tie beams, and braces to connect different sections together to create the frame. The posts would be steel and a post-to-purlin technique would support the board and batten siding of rough sawn ponderosa pine. The team went through over twenty drafts before submitting five hand-drawn pages to the city for a 120 day review. The town (or building approval committee) responded with only two questions, and both were related to the landscaping. The project was ready to move on to the next phase, approval by the county, and then construction could begin.

Here, things got a little challenging because this design was unique for Sisters and required special approval. The county required the consent of architects and engineers to the design for them to submit the final drawings. The architects and engineers were unfamiliar with this design and the chosen building techniques, so there were many conversations about implementing modern building practices into the project. The team understood that these practices are based on liability and risk, but nonetheless, also believed they created a generic product. Whereas the engineers wanted a structure that looked like a monitor barn, the team wanted a structure that was a monitor barn. They hired Chuck Potter as their General Contractor and Chuck, with his many years of experience modeling restaurants in Central Oregon, guided them through the process for approval by the end of the year. On January 15, 2021, almost one year after purchasing the property, the team broke ground.

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