BARRETT CAFÉ

 

Barrett Café has been at it’s present location for well over 50 years.  Many residents went  to Barrett for the famous fish fry before buying in the back country.  On Friday night many carloads of people traveled Highway 94 to get a 75 cent fish dinner at Barrett Café, and for years it has been considered a land mark on Highway 94.

In the 1930’s a family named Wolf had a restaurant and store at Barrett Junction.  When the war was over they decided that they would like to sell out and move to Oregon.  Bill and Vi Avril had been working at Rohr during the war.  They were tired of the hustle and bustle of the city and decided to buy Wolf’s Café and try their hand at the restaurant business and country life. They took over the café on New Years’ Day 1946.  The front part of the café now was the size of their whole operation at that time.

In order to generate a little more business and provide some entertainment, Bill decided to start a roping arena across the road from the café where the local cowboys could show off their stuff.  When the rodeo became more and more popular, they built a grandstand for the arena and held rodeos there almost every weekend.  There weren’t too many arenas around at the time and Barrett became a great spot for the cowboys.  Some excellent ropers would appear there.  Len Gilman, who is an active Highway 94 Club member was stationed in the area with the Border Patrol and used to participate in the roping events.

They also held open-air dances on Sunday afternoon and Saturday nights.  Vi said the crowds became so large that they didn’t have the facilities to handle them.  Some of the cowboys had a tendency to celebrate a little too much and the crowds got a little  rowdy and out of hand.  They started having these rodeos about 1950 and closed the arena area about 1957.  In 1950 the Avrils bought a war surplus quonset hut and began holding dances at the café.

In 1952, on Friday nights quite a few people gathered there to eat fish that Bill or someone else had caught. These free fish fries became so popular that they started purchasing fish from commercial wholesalers and charged 50 to 75 cents per person.  This was the start of the famous Barrett fish fry.  After the quonset hut was built they had plenty of room for dinners and dances.  For many years every Saturday there was a western band and fun was had by all.   In the 60’s, the place was jumping with excitement and they would serve between 200 to 300 fish dinners on Friday nights.  On Saturday nights there would be a big dance and on Sunday afternoons they served their famous Chicken dinners - all you could eat.

Bill and Vi were very hard workers and contributed so much to the local area.  Bill was one of the organizers of the Highway 94 Club and spent many hours at his own expense on Highway 94 Club business.  At that time, as well as the present, all meetings of the Highway 94 Club have been held  at Barrett Café where a delicious chicken dinner is served.

Both Bill and Vi Avril are now deceased, but the tradition continues.  Before their death, their daughter Cathy and her husband Steve Stephens took over the business and still have the Café.  They built a beautiful house across from the café and are a very active part of this community.   They are known and respected by all in the back country.  It is people like them who make our back country so “special”.

January 2000 Cathy and Steve sold Barrett Café and their residence to Mr. and Mrs. Leon Herzog but the café continues as before.  Highway 94 meetings are still meeting there with a delicious chicken dinner. (1)

 

Old homestead at Barrett  

Across the street from Barrett showing Rodeo  

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