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Ole Barn Restaurant and Farm transports visitors to a simpler time

April 17th, 2012 11:46 am by Staff Report

Ole Barn Restaurant and Farm transports visitors to a simpler time

The Ole Barn Restaurant and Farm is housed in a rare, relocated and rebuilt cantilever barn from the mid-1800s.

By Cindy Harmon

Just a mile off Interstate 26 in Carter County, Ole Barn Restaurant and Farm transports visitors to a simpler time - a place where the fresh air and pristine mountain views clear your senses.

Now, the Ole Barn Restaurant and Farm isn’t any ordinary barn, but rather a rare, relocated and painstakingly-rebuilt cantilever barn from the mid-1800s.

"The ole barn was across the road, I purchased it and we took it down piece-by-piece, log-by-log. We numbered logs and photographed the barn, the joints and all parts of it. We poured a slab, moved it over here and set it back just like it came down," said Wayne Ayers, owner and proprietor.

To call it a labor of love is an understatement. The whole process took a year and two months.

As for the land where Ole Barn now sits, well, it’s become the largest Christmas tree farm in the state of Tennessee. You see, growing Christmas trees has been a family business for 50 years. And in 1993, the Ayers’ Roan Mountain Christmas Tree farm was selected to provide the White House Christmas tree.

"We have a choose-and-cut Christmas tree operation and I was going to put a gift shop in one cabin and put the greenery, wreaths, rope and all on the other side. But when we floored the upstairs, I had so much more room, I thought, 'I’ve got to do something with it' and, for some reason, I decided to do a restaurant," Ayers said, adding, "I hate to see old things go to waste. It wouldn’t have been very long till this barn would have been a total loss - gone. I was tickled to death to get it and save it really, along with having a use for it. I just didn’t expect to use it like this."

The restaurant’s unique décor has a rustic charm complete with handmade artifacts and relics from the original barn.

"People really enjoy looking at what we’ve hung on the walls. They’ll say my daddy or grandpa had one of those, and they think they know what it is. Usually they’re right, but we have a couple of items that no one’s ever been able to identify," Ayers noted.

Besides seating accommodations for 155 people upstairs and a wheelchair-accessible area for 25 downstairs, modifications include an enclosed center creating a cozy entrance with a rock chimney and fireplace; bathrooms with tin ceiling tiles and wash basins on old sewing machine frame pedestals; as well as supplemental dumbwaiters and mini-kitchens upstairs to help the wait staff keep the food a-coming.

The Ole Barn Restaurant features a home-cooked menu with plenty of meats and vegetables to choose from. Served family style, it is an all-you-care-to-eat affair with a set price that includes dinner, drink and dessert. During breakfast hours on Saturday and Sunday, you might even find Wayne handling the grill.

"I kind of like to cook. I don’t like washing dishes, but I do like to cook," the 75-year-old said with a smile.

The Ole Barn is located one mile from I-26 off exit 27. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, but they’ll open for parties of 50 or more anytime during the week. For more information, call 423-631-0403 or visit the website at The one-of-a-kind restaurant offers great service and food that would make your grandma proud. So why don't you bring her in for a meal? We're sure she'll love it!

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