June 2006
Featured Articles

Good Food, Good Times Lure Folk to ‘The Land Of Goshen’

  The Old Barn Restaurant in the Land of Goshen has quickly become a favorite feeding trough for locals and visitors alike. The Old Barn is owned and operated by the Taylor family, Johnny and Beverly Taylor and their daughter and son-in-law Amy and Scottie Chandler. The restaurant is located on County Road 2243 in Pike County, about 15 miles off U.S. Highway 231 north in Troy. Pictured are Beverly Taylor, Amy, holding Jaycie, and Scottie Chandler.
by Jaine Treadwell

Folks around Pike County are used to giving directions for the quickest route to the beaches… but to "the Land of Goshen?"

"Well, you can turn at the overpass and go S… or you can turn at Cowboys and S…"

Those who don’t know the directions to the sleepy little rural town of Goshen are fast learning because a lot of folks are asking now that The Old Barn Restaurant in the Land of Goshen is making quite a name for itself.

The Old Barn Restaurant sits atop a hill that overlooks what country folks call a pond and city folks call a lake. The view of the countryside is as picturesque as the atmosphere inside is friendly and "comely."

The Old Barn Restaurant is just that an old barn — or it was. Now, it’s the hub of the community and the gathering and gabbing place for a lot of other folks.

The Old Barn is owned and operated by the Taylor family, Johnny and Beverly Taylor and their daughter and son-in-law Amy and Scottie Chandler. It’s now a place of living history, a bundle of memories and the realization of a dream.

A huge old whiskey barrel was cut down to make the checkout counter at the restaurant. Beverly Taylor is usually working the register and greeting visitors to The Old Barn and then inviting them back again.  
The dream was actually that of Amy and Scottie but the Taylors just bought into it hook, line and sinker. And, perhaps the boat that dominates the view outside the huge back window of ‘the barn’ is there as a reminder that "we’re all in this together."

"It’s a family business, we all are part of it," said Beverly as she rang up tickets on a busy Friday night. "All of us. Our son Jamie is a waiter and our other son, David, has worked along side us. It’s been a family thing all the way."

Beverly’s little granddaughter, Jaycie, tugged at her waist, a reminder that she was ready for some of Granddaddy’s homemade ice cream made from a "secret" family recipe.

Amy buzzed by, greeting guests and making sure that everyone was being given the VIP treatment.

"We have been very pleased with the response," she said. "People seem to like the atmosphere of the old barn and we sure hope they enjoy the food."

From the chatter of the packed house and the rattle of dishes, Amy’s hopes were being realized.

She explained that the barn is more than 100 years old and that every effort has been made to preserve the charm of the old structure that was once home to a few mules and a corncrib of mice.

"We added the kitchen, the restrooms and the front porch but we have tried to keep the look as authentic as we possibly can," Amy said. "Much of the wood for the floors came from the old barn and the rest of the wood came from barns and old houses in the Goshen area that were falling down. We salvaged what we could and used it in the renovation of the barn. We don’t throw any piece of wood away."

The barn had an opening down the middle so wagons could pull through to load and unload. The front opening is the front door of The Old Barn and the back opening provides a glassed-in view of the woods behind the barn. The walls are decorated with old farm implements, old photographs and even a trophy deer.

  Johnny Taylor shares a story and a laugh with Marilyn Thompson as she enjoys a cup of his famous homemade "Land of Goshen" vanilla ice cream on the porch of The Old Barn Restaurant.
The posts that provide support for the grand old barn bear the scars made by gnawing mules and add to special touch of nostalgia to the restaurant.

"We used wood from old houses and barns to wall the ‘hayloft’ and we’re planning to use that area for private dining," Amy said. "We are continuing to grow."

And, as word spreads about the unique restaurant in the Land of Goshen, more people will be searching out The Old Barn for the country, down-home cooking and for a trip back in time.

"We serve just about anything that you would expect at a restaurant like this," Amy said. "Steaks, chicken and seafood. We planned for yeast rolls to be our specialty bread and it was for a while, but people keep asking for our cheese biscuits, so they gradually have become our specialty."

The restaurant’s cheese grits are also a favorite and the desserts, oh, the desserts. "They are all homemade," Amy said. "Most of them are old family recipes, from my grandmothers and from Scottie’s grandparents. Some of the desserts belong to Heather’s family."

Heather Vanderpol is the head cook at The Old Barn. She was formerly a cook at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, but the type of cooking she did there isn’t the same kind she does at in the Land of Goshen.

Amy Chandler serves customers at the Old Barn Restaurant. The restaurant features Southern cooking , with specialties including cheese biscuits and homemade desserts, including Johnny’s homemade ice cream.  
"Oh, this is Southern cooking," she said. "This is the kind of food that people in our area really enjoy and the kind that we really like to cook for them."

What folks around South Alabama really like to eat is "something salty and something sweet," so that’s just about anything.

"We have a variety of desserts and our chocolate and key lime pies and cheesecakes are among the favorites," Amy said. "But the favorite of all the desserts is Daddy’s homemade ice cream."

And what better way to finish off a meal than with a cup of Land of Goshen vanilla ice cream while rocking on the front porch and enjoying the company of friends and neighbors.

That’s just how down-home The Old Barn Restaurant is and how friendly and inviting the folks in the Land of Goshen are.

"We love to have company so we invite everyone down to The Old Barn,"
  A view from the back window of The Old Barn gives diners the impression that they have just rowed in from an afternoon on the pond —or the lake — depending on whether the diners are country folk or city slickers.
Beverly said. "We treat everybody like home folks and it’s good to have people come home."

Johnny and Beverly Taylor couldn’t do without Goshen Farmers Co-op. They purchased all of the bedding, pepper and tomato plants around the restaurant from the Co-op, as well as the seeds for the rye grass. They even recently purchased balloons for a party at the restaurant since the Co-op has a helium tank.

The Taylors also have a cattle farm and purchase feed and other needs for their cattle operation, such as lawn sprays and fertilizers, from the Co-op.

The Old Barn Restaurant is open from 5 until 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.