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Angus Barn’s 60th anniversary celebration this year will look different from birthdays past.
There won’t be the crowds, the bands, the explosion of paraphernalia. Instead, there will be a smaller, quieter gathering, if allowed, with loyal customers celebrating what they love most about the Angus Barn—its sense of family.
“[It] will be low-key, not to say we still couldn’t throw a party later,” says owner Van Eure, whose father, Thad Eure, co-founded Angus Barn along with Charles Winston in 1960. “We’ll have some kind of gift or memento for our guests. It won’t be the big blowout, but that’s okay.”
Eure will post pictures and memories to social media celebrating Angus Barn’s legacy for everyone to enjoy; she realizes it’s not the same but says she still feels like everyone will be able to celebrate in their own way.
“Instead of being sad we can’t do a big thing, I’m grateful our restaurant will still be okay for our 60th,” Eure says. “It’s priceless for me that we are just able to be here. I’m thankful we have a place to come to that has survived [so much].”
Angus Barn, like other restaurants, has had to adjust to a different way of operating. Curbside service is its new normal, running every day from 4 to 8 p.m. with a limited menu. Restaurant staff works to include personal touches such as cheese and crackers and the traditional apples.
“We tried to include little things they would have normally gotten with their meal,” Eure says. “If it is a birthday, we give them a birthday cake. We tape candles on the outside of the. We’ve gotten better and better at to-go, we’re really good at it now.”
While curbside service isn’t a money maker for Angus Barn, it is a way to serve the public and keep employees inspired and coming to work.
“We sent out an email and asked who felt comfortable coming in and 100 people signed up to do anything we needed,” Eure says. “I mean they are on their hands and knees scrubbing floors and walls. They cared about the restaurant so much that they wanted to help get it ready for opening.”
It’s this attitude that has created the “Angus Barn family.” Since the dining room closed, Eure says the employees were first priority. From making a big dinner for workers to pick up to share with their families to making sure managers spoke to each employee to verify they were doing OK, Eure is passionate about her relationship with all 356 people she employs.
“I didn’t want a single person to be struggling and we didn’t know it,” Eure says. “We did find several in pretty desperate need and we were able to take care of them, whether medication or a visit or something else. Without these employees that have been here for us, we’re nothing.”
In this way, the apple doesn’t fall far from the Eure tree. Thad Eure taught his daughter how to hire good workers and, in turn, to listen to what they have to say. He also taught her to take care of them in times of trouble. In fact, when Angus Barn burned down in 1964, all but three returned to work upon its reopening. Eure recalls watching the fire and its aftermath.
“I reach back into my mind to remember how my parents handled it,” she says. “The first thing I watched my dad do was to put out lights so they could work through the night to rebuild. He wasn’t sitting there crying and putting his head down. The first concern was about employees. The next concern is about the guests.”
Eure says she understands that when she reopens, things will have to change. Crowds of people can’t wait in the lounge so guests waiting in their cars for tables will likely have to be summoned by pagers. Partitions are up already and half of the tables have already been removed from every dining room. Sadly, children will no longer be allowed into the kitchen to make ice cream sundaes.
“Everything is completely opposite from how we’re used to operating,” Eure says. “It’s going to be a mindset change. We’re still going to be doing to-go because we can only open at [limited] capacity and a lot of people may not feel comfortable coming in for dinner yet.”
Moving forward will be gradual, especially with the uncertainty around rules related to the pandemic. But Eure and her staff have taken the highs and lows of 60 years in the business for strength and inspiration.
While closed to the public, the Angus Barn has undergone a renovation to replace old floors and fixtures. As she was cleaning out one of the Angus Barn attics recently, Eure found a treasure trove from the past, items her parents had stored up there for decades she otherwise would never have known about, including a whole box of her mother’s recipes.
Eure says she plans to share some items on social media for the 60th anniversary. She admits she can only sort through two boxes a day because of the emotion involved.
“[My mom] and my dad were the ones who put together Angus Barn sauces, dressings and desserts and I found all of her recipes,” Eure says. “One of the chefs and I thought we’d start making one [dish] a week for her, and during our 60th year, have a wine cellar dinner with all of Alice Eure’s recipes. That’s been great.”
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