June 5, 2018

Come say ‘barn voyage’ to beloved eatery before its renovation

The Barn will close June 14 for an 18-month renovation

Author: Sandra Baltazar Martínez
June 5, 2018

The community is invited to the ‘Barn Voyage’ on June 14, 2018.UCR FILE

Food, music, and meetings have all been a staple of the Barn’s 101-year history as a horse stable-turned restaurant on the southeast end of UC Riverside’s campus.

Music legends such as Radiohead, Incubus, Van Morrison, No Doubt, and the Allman Brothers Band have performed at the Barn. Then there were the legendary meals: free chips and salsa nights, Misto’s Caesar Salad, and Sonia’s soups.  

On June 14, the campus will celebrate the building’s past, present, and future at a “Barn Voyage,” a party and open house for the community to visit the Barn one more time before it undergoes an 18-month refurbishment. Originally opened in 1917 as a horse stable at the Citrus Experiment Station, the building’s $20 million renovation and expansion will include more seating in an effort to bring back live entertainment. Also in the works are a new kitchen, a faculty/staff dining facility, and a redone Barn Theater.

“The construction is really going to activate this historical space and assist in bringing it to life again as a wonderful place that will contribute to a sense of community through dining, events, and entertainment,” said Robin Hungerford, director of Residential Dining and Hospitality Services at UCR.  “We look forward to seeing this become a destination for students, faculty, and staff when it reopens.”

During the closure, Dining, Hospitality and Retail Services will bring in two food trucks to the Sproul Hall area, and install temporary patio tables with umbrellas. Once the Barn is closed, a “Barn Buffet” will be offered twice a week at the Alumni & Visitors Center.

UCR Executive Chef Lanette Dickerson said the Barn’s menu has evolved but has always tried to keep within a traditional theme. Barn Voyage guests can enjoy hors d’oeuvre sized tastings of these signature menu items.

“The Barn has been a social hub for the campus and the community,” Dickerson said. “It’s a home away from home here.”

The Barn: A History

  • 1917: Horse stable was built. It was the first structure to be remodeled and converted to the Barn Cafeteria between 1954 and 1955.
  • The Barn was part of a group of five structures: a horse stable, an office/carpenter shop, a hay barn, and two wagon sheds. All five edifices were known as the Barn Group. One wagon shed became the current Barn Theater.
  • 1917: Three residential cottages were built. Only one remains; it is located across the street from he Barn.  
  • 1960’s: When the new University Commons opened (precursor to the HUB), the Barn was used by the campus for events and as a space for student groups.
  • 1970: A fire at the Barn burned a portion of the north section, forcing it to close.
  • 1973: Using the insurance money from the fire, the Barn was reimagined as a campus bar and entertainment venue. The burned section was removed and a new bar was built, serving beer and wine. Music was introduced and over time the Barn became a musical landmark, a venue for up-and-coming folk and pop acts. Watch a video.
  • 1986: An expanded Barn opened with a rebuilt section following the fire, plus an enhanced bar, stage, and sound system. The Barn’s reputation as a musical venue was at an all-time high. Comedy shows were introduced.
  • 1990s: Bill Fold, a Riverside native, promoted punk and rock shows at the Barn with his company, 98 Posse. Bands such as The Aquabats, Dance Hall Crashers, and Blink 182 all performed at UCR, and Fold eventually went on to work with Goldenvoice as director/producer for the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals.
  • 1995-1999: The Barn closes for renovations, bringing it up to its current state.
  • Over the decades, according to Setlist.fm and KUCR records, artists who have played at the Barn have also included: Sandra Bernhard, Radiohead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Reel Big Fish, Save Ferris,  Atari Teenage Riot, Madlib, Bosnian Rainbows, BadBadNotGood, The Screaming Blue Messiahs, Wall of Voodoo, Foster The People (video includes shots from the Barn) and comedians Al Madrigal, Ron Funches, and Brent Weinbach. and the Allman Brothers Band

Barn Voyage

  • When: Thursday, June 14, from 3-6 p.m.
  • What: The Open House will feature refreshments, a cash bar, entertainment, a look back at highlights of the Barn’s storied legacy, plus a special sneak peek at what the new Barn will look like when it opens in early 2020.
  • Cost: Free

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