By Sarah Allen
MARSHALL — Located in the small community of Marshall, The Barnyard Café is a restaurant that gives diners a country experience that reaches far beyond its menu.
The café opened on July 2, 2012 as a dairy bar and petting zoo. But, according to owner Steve McComas, patrons began asking for seating and breakfast options, and the restaurant grew.
The Barnyard Café now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a total of 18 ice cream flavors, both hand-dipped and soft serve, for dessert.
McComas said he opened the restaurant in Marshall because, “I’ve lived here my whole life basically.”
In 2013, The Barnyard Café’s burger was voted the best in Highland County. “The hamburger by far” is the most popular item on the menu, McComas added.
He said the café uses fresh ground beef and that “everything’s made to order here.” During the summer, McComas said The Barnyard Café uses about 30 to 40 pounds of ground beef every day.
And on Friday nights, when the café has all-you-can-eat fish, the restaurant has sold up to 80 pounds of fish.
Another popular menu item is the Billy Jack Special — a breakfast which comes with two eggs, a choice of meat, hash browns, and pancakes. The western omelet, McComas added, is another breakfast favorite.
Also popular, McComas said, are the café’s green beans. “Everybody goes crazy about our green beans,” he said.
McComas added that the café sells “a lot of pizzas in the evening.”
Also, during the summer, the café holds Saturday night barbecues once a month. The Barnyard Café also sells locally grown produce and hosts a tractor show during the summer.
McComas said the restaurant’s busiest days are Fridays and Sundays. “It’s a packed house,” he added.
As such, The Barnyard Café is in the process of building on to the restaurant, so that 125 people can be seated at one time.
But The Barnyard Café is more than a restaurant. In addition to serving a variety of food, the café sells crafts, as well as Amish barns and outdoor furniture. The Amish items, McComas said, are built next door to the restaurant.
The Amish barns, McComas said, can be special ordered. Customers can buy those outright or rent-to-own them. He added that the barns and the furniture are “really unique items.”
The café also includes a petting zoo, featuring horses, donkeys, pigs and sheep. McComas said he is planning to add alpacas. The petting zoo, he said, is a “huge draw in the summer.”
Manager April Pitts added “a lot of field trips (come to the petting zoo) in the spring and summer.” She said the petting zoo — and the entire atmosphere of The Barnyard Café — is centered on “the country setting.” It’s “family-oriented,” Pitts said.
McComas agreed the country feel is one of the many things that make The Barnyard Café unique. Also special, he said, is the restaurant’s “interaction with people.”
He added he has a “great staff and an awesome manager,” all of whom are “very, very dedicated.”
“That’s probably our strength right there,” McComas said.
And, when it comes to the café’s success, McComas said, “We’ve been very lucky.” And, because of that, McComas said he wanted to find a way to give back to the community — and one way the restaurant does that is with an annual Christmas fundraiser.
During November and December, the café collects daily necessities, such as food and clothing, for local families in need. The restaurant also accepts monetary donations.
The fundraiser, McComas said, is “very big” and has been a “huge success.” He added, “The locals are very generous.”
The Barnyard Café is located at 10940 State Route 124 east in Marshall. The restaurant can be reached at 937-466-2332.
Sarah is a reporter for The Times-Gazette in Hillsboro. Reach her at 937-393-3456 or at email@example.com.