This first one, is the former Columbia Heights, MN, Red Barn, which was
the first one I worked at. It is now a Taco Bell and has been totally
remodeled. The Heights Red Barn was the only one that was never
profitable due to the fact there were 22 other fast food restaurants
within a mile of it. It closed in the early Spring of 1979.
When the Heights Barn was closed, I transferred to the Campus Red Barn,
located on the University of Minnesota Campus, in Minneapolis. It is
the only former Barn that hasn't been totally remodeled, as you can see
by the picture of it's back side. The only thing different is the front
fasaud, which has the Vietnamese face plate attached to it. The Campus
Red Barn is in parts of the Movie: Foolin' Around, filmed in
front, in 1977.
University of Minnesota Campus, (back)
Russell was kind enough to tour the Minnesota area to take and share these great pictures.
We all thank Russell for his time and effort.
I got to thinking and decided to contact the Historical Society, and ask them to
look up all the old Red Barn addresses in a 1977 Minneapolis phone book. I
scribbled down all the addresses, and discovered more old Barns that are still
The first set of pics is of the old Robbinsdale, MN Red Barn. It has been a
Pizza Hut, two Chinese Restaurants, and is currently a Vietnamese Restaurant.
The second set of pics of the Arby's is the former Highland Park, MN Red Barn.
This building gave me no clue it was an old Barn, until I went inside and saw
the old familiar red-brick floor tiles. I verified with the Manager that is was
an old Barn, which made him curious. I told him I was taking pictures for a
historical web site about Red Barn Restaurants. He then said, "Come here I want
to show you something." I followed him behind the sales counter into the back
room, where he pointed out an old Control Panel that said Red Barn on it! He
said, "That's all that's left of the old Barn." That was so cool! The Highland
Red Barn was a Church's Fried Chicken before becoming an Arby's.
In the 1970's there were 10 Red Barns in the Twin Cities Metro area. The franchise was owned by Bob Lafferty, and the main offices were located on Calhill Road out in Edina, MN, a wealthy southwestern suburb of Minneapolis. Here is a brief detail of all the Barns:
1. Columbia Heights Red Barn, located at 4900 Central Avenue NE. This was my "home" Barn. I started there in November of 1977. Columbia Heights is a northern Suburb of Minneapolis. The Heights Red Barn was a very quiet place and never made a profit. We were also the Heights Jr. High School kids, hangout place.
2. Campus Red Barn, located on Oak Street SE, in Minneapolis on the University of Minnesota East Bank. This was the 2nd Red Barn I worked at after Heights went out of business in 1979. The Campus Red Barn had the distinction of being on the same block that parts of the movie Foolin' Around, starring Eddie Albert and Annette O'Toole, was filmed. It is the only Barn that was not really remodeled and has been the Lotus Restaurant ever since.
3. Edina Red Barn, located on France Avenue S. and 50th Street in Edina, MN Edina is a wealthy southwestern suburb of Minneapolis. This Barn was the next in line for me. It is now an Arby's, and I will be photographing it next month. Edina Red Barn has two very important distinctions for me. First off, it is where I hold my record of my busiest lunch rush, where I fielded a $525 dollar hour, back on the Grill by myself! I had to cook all the burgers, fish, and apple pies, and also drop two "runs" of chicken in that hour with no help we were so busy. I worked at the Edina Barn from 1980 to 1981. The other distinction the Edina Barn held was it was a frequent haunt of several Minnesota Vikings (Packers suck) Football team. Some of the old "Purple People Eaters" would come in for lunch. Next to the Heights Barn, Edina Barn was my favoriate place to work.
4. Snelling Red Barn, located on North Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, MN, one block south of the freeway I-94 on Snelling Ave. This was my last Barn. It was also the last Barn to be in business in the Twin Cities Metro. This Barn closed in 1983, which ended my Red Barn career, but all the other Barns had been converted into a new restaurant chain owned by the same guy (Bob Lafferty) called The Main Grain. Mr. Lafferty was trying to save his franchise, so he created the Main Grain, but he never was granted a liquor license so Main Grain went under when the last Red Barn closed. I can't remember why, but he could not convert the Snelling Red Barn into a Main Grain.
The Snelling Barn became some small business for many years, then was torn down to make room for a new Tires Plus Store in the early 1990's.
5. Highland Park Red Barn, located on South Snelling Avenue in Highland Park, MN, a wealthy southern suburb of St. Paul. The Highland Red Barn was the only Barn that never looked like a barn. It was also the newest store. I never worked there, or ate there, so I had forgotten about it until just last week. The Highland Barn became a Church's Fried Chicken for several years, and then became an Arby's.
6. Lake Street Red Barn, located at 3207 East Lake Street, in south Minneapolis. The Lake Street Barn had two distinctions. It was the only Barn in the Twin Cities that ever had a Drive-Thru window, and it was infested with cockroaches! I had the good fortune (yea, right) to work there for one night as a fill-in. It was located in a poor neighborhood of Minneapolis, and was not a very clean store. The Lake Street Barn was sold to the City of Minneapolis, and used for municipal storage for many years before finally being torn down. I don't know what is there now, I will let you know next time I'm down that way.
7. Nicollet Red Barn, located at East 24th Street, and Nicollet Avenue South, in South Minneapolis. I never set foot in this Barn as it was located in one of the worst parts of the city. It was robbed on a weekly basis, but it was also the busiest Red Barn in the system, so it could afford to be robbed I guess; it also had cockroaches. This Barn is now a McDonald's, (hope the roaches are gone!) . It is also the Barn featured in the recent City Pages story: http://citypages.com/databank/25/1207/article11825.asp
8. Robbinsdale Red Barn, located on Lakeland Avenue North in Robbinsdale, MN, right across from the Robin Shopping Center. The Robbinsdale Barn was almost as dead as the Heights Barn. I never worked at the store, but whenever we ran out of something at Heights, my manager would send me over to the Robbinsdale Barn to get supplies. We also had several fill-in workers come from the Robbinsdale Barn, so I got to know some of it's crew. The Robbinsdale Barn has been heavily remodled along with the area around it, which is why I thought it had been demolished.
9. Bloomington Red Barn, located at 8901 Penn Avenue South, in Bloomington, MN. I do not know if this Barn is still standing or not. Next time I get out there I will check and get photos if possible. Bloomington is the Twin Cities largest suburb, and it is where the famous Mall of America is located today. Bloomington is south of Minneapolis, and is the fourth largest city in the State of Minnesota, right after Duluth. I was only at the Bloomington Barn one time. I went there with our franchise's Maintenance Man, Paul Church, to help unclog a drain. The only reason I was with Paul that day, was because I helped move all the machinery out of Heights Red Barn when it closed. It took a week, which I didn't have to cook. It was fun helping Paul Church, as he was a very funny and personable older guy. After all the Barns closed, Paul Church went to work as Maintenance Man for Taco John's, then retired.
10. White Bear Lake Red Barn. The White Bear Lake store was closed before I ever worked for the franchise. I only know of it's existence because one of my managers showed us where it was located when we were out driving around after work late one night. I will have to dig through old phone books at the Historical Society to find out where this barn was located. I do remember it was shaped like a Barn. If I can find it's location I will post photos of it. White Bear Lake is a northeastern suburb of St. Paul, MN.