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
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
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