New management for the Old Barn
During a 27-year career selling beer to bars, Pat Murphy has seen his share of successful operations and his share of failures. So he was in no hurry last year to do a career switch and buy his own bar. Then he got an e mail from his friend Scott telling him the Old Barn on Barbur was for sale.
"Owning my own place has always been sort of a goal of our's," Murphy said of wife Lisa and three teenaged children. "But the right location never came by when the timing was right. This time the timing was right. The stars were in alignment."
Murphy, who took over the Old Barn on December 21, was vacationing in Coeur d'Alene with the family when he got that e mail. "I was like 'Oh, the Old Barn. I know the Old Barn. I grew up a few miles away. It's sort of a Portland icon. Talk to anyone who's lived in Portland for any amount of time and if they haven't been in they will tell you they've driven by it a million times," he said. The Old Barn is located at 9656 SW Barbur Boulevard right next to the Barbur Transit Center.
Murphy is taking over operation of the Old Barn from John Malafouris, who ran it for 37 years. No major changes are expected.
Lisa Murphy, a school teacher in the Tigard-Tualatin District, brought her parents, who were visiting from out of town, to the Old Barn just after she and Pat took over in December.
"This was the first time they had seen it. We came in and there were young people over there with their laptops, and some men over there in business dress and customers at the bar who have been coming here for 35 years. It was great," she said. "A great mix of people in a real neighborhood place. My parents were impressed."
Both Pat and Lisa have been impressed with how the staff welcomed new management. "People have been really committed and they're embracing us and working their butts off," he said.
Before it was the Old Barn, Murphy's place was called the Boulevard Café and was owned by the same family that ran Tad's Chicken Dumpling Restaurant along the Sandy River. The major differences from the old days are big-screen televisions for sports, Oregon lottery machines and video games. And no smoking, of course.
Murphy, who worked for Columbia Distributing selling beer to bars for 27 years, says he'd known the food was always good at the Old Barn but only found out how good once he entered negotiations to buy it.
"When I worked for Columbia (located in Northwest Portland) we always ate at the Dockside. The clam chowder Terry and Kathy Peterson serve is the best, I thought. Then I had the clam chowder here at the Old Barn. They've been making it from the recipe handed down by John (Malafouris's) grandma. It's now my favorite anywhere," Murphy said.
Razor clams are featured on the last Friday of each month while Dungeness crab is the special on the second Friday.
As far as sports is concerned, the Old Barn has enough televisions for any contest that's broadcast and has become a gathering place for Cleveland Browns fans during the NFL season.
As of late February, Murphy had been working 60 days straight at the Old Barn. "I've yet to go 'Oh man this is tough' because I'm loving it. It feels like home. You know what they say about how taking out the garbage sucks but when it's my place I don't mind taking out the garbage? It's true," Murphy said.
EDITOR'S NOTE - The Old Barn is located right on what may someday be a light rail line along Barbur Boulevard. Pat Murphy's thoughts on that project can be seen in the March 1 issue of the SW Community Connection.