Old Barn restaurant has a new barnkeeper
By Ben Norman
It was Amy Chandler’s idea to turn the old barn on her family’s farm into a famous eatery, and now she’s the new owner.
When Amy Chandler was a 10-year-old girl playing in the loft of the large barn on her parent’s farm, the furthest thing from her mind was operating a famous eatery out of the same barn. Back then, she was much more interested in watching the nest where a mother owl hatched a trio of baby owls, or playing with a new litter of kittens the barn cat was raising.
“That mother owl would let me get up close enough to peek into the nest, but if I got too close she would hiss and spread her wings to warn me that was close enough,” Amy remembers. “Later on, I read how ferocious a nesting owl can be, but somehow she just knew I meant her babies no harm.”
The idea of opening a restaurant developed because of Amy and husband Scottie’s desire to get back home to Goshen, Ala. “We were working in south Alabama and wanted to get back home. I approached my father and mother, Johnny and Beverly Taylor, about converting the farm barn into a restaurant,” she says. “Daddy was somewhat receptive but mom was a bit apprehensive. But after considerable thought and planning, we decided to do it. I had worked my way through college as a waitress and had a good understanding of what it would take to run a restaurant. My dad and husband were already accomplished cooks, and I had a knack for preparing desserts. Mom was good at bookkeeping and administrative matters. It wasn’t long before we were nailing and sawing and The Old Barn Restaurant was beginning to take shape.
“We wanted a comfortable place for our customers but we also wanted to retain as much of the original décor of the barn as possible. The supporting posts of the Old Barn show scars of where mules chewed them in the early 1900s to obtain salt. Daddy likes to remind customers in one section that ‘you are sitting right where the sow, Big Mama, had their pigs.’ He also liked to tell someone coming out of the bathroom you ‘just used what used to be the corn crib,’” laughs Amy.
South Alabama Electric in Troy helped in the initial planning and made recommendations for their electrical needs. The family worked many long days and gradually the old hay and mule barn evolved into a rustic restaurant, with their agricultural antique collection adorning the walls of the dining area.
While the Old Barn’s rustic appearance, decorated walls and the large front porch attract customers, it is the food that is the real drawing point. “We have people from all over the Southeast come and eat with us,” she says. “I think it was our diversified cooking abilities that led to our success. Daddy’s specialty is barbecue and camp stew, Scottie’s is cooking meat loaf, chicken, bread pudding and preparing a real country lunch for Sunday. I get a lot of compliments on my Conecuh River Mudcake, ice cream and peach cobbler. Our cook is one of the very best at grilling steaks and preparing seafood. We have also cross-trained by learning how to make each other’s specialty.”
Her parents decided in November 2013 that they wanted more free time to travel and turned the Old Barn over to Scottie and Amy. Amy says she loves the business and their customers have become their friends. Eating Sunday lunch at the Old Barn is about as close as one can get to eating at grandmama’s house. The Chandlers are now growing most of the vegetables served at the Old Barn in their large garden. The days they are not open Amy spends most of her time cultivating, picking vegetables and hand shelling peas and butterbeans.
The Old Barn specializes in quality steaks and succulent seafood from Thursday through Saturday night, with a country lunch served on Sunday. After enjoying a meal, many customers like to move to the spacious front porch, sit in the rocking chairs and enjoy a cup of homemade ice cream or a cup of coffee and chat with old friends and meet new ones.
The Old Barn hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. They are open for Sunday lunch at 11 a.m. The Chandlers also book parties and do catering. The Old Barn is located at 2146 Pike County Road 2243, Goshen, Ala., 36035. If you need help with directions, call 334-484-3200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Norman is a writer from Highland Home, Ala.