Nowadays it’s hard to find a place to sit down and eat and know exactly where your food came from. I can’t remember the last time I ate at a restaurant (at least in Northeast Pennsylvania) where the chef told me everything is fresh, organic, and local. While I’m sure there are a few places like that scattered in the area, one place is making it its mission to provide locally grown, good, wholesome food to its patrons.
Brown Barn & Company recently reopened its bistro (100 East Overbrook Rd., Shavertown), and I had a chance to sit down with owner Mary Hepner and chef Amy Welgus to try some food and talk about what they are doing.
Nestled in the Back Mountain, the Brown Barn Bistro is inside a three-story rustic barn that was actually moved from the country and set on the foundation in 2007. Owners Mary Hepner and Theresa Novak use only local farmers to supply the produce, eggs, milk, and other fresh ingredients used in both the bistro and the chocolate shop. Forks Farm, Dancing Hen Farm, and Rowlands Pennsylvania Produce are a few local farms Brown Barn & Company currently work with.
“It’s important for us to provide healthy, natural food for our customers,” explained Hepner. “We are supporting hardworking people and our community. Local farms depend on places like us in order to move forward and stay in business.”
In a world where everything is changing, it’s no surprise that the American family farmer is disappearing. Less than 1 percent of Americans claim farming as a primary occupation. By buying locally, the middleman is eliminated and farmers are able to sell at full retail prices.
“By utilizing local farms, we are diminishing waste, and it’s easier on the local economy,” Hepner explained. “We are wasting less diesel, using less packaging, and giving local farms the opportunity to continue operating.”
Welgus has been cooking since she was 12 years old and also thinks it’s extremely important to provide food that is fresh and made with real, natural ingredients.
“My passion for food is what drove me to where I am today,” she said. “I’m so excited to be able to create a menu using fresh ingredients and wholesome food. It’s important to be mindful of what you’re eating, and I love being able to provide food that is real.”
Brown Barn & Company is also home to Ah! Some Chocolates and a boutique filled with unique crafts made by local artisans.
“Mom and pop shops are not able to compete with all of these big-time corporations, so we enable artists to showcase their goods here at the barn,” Hepner said. A lot of the items are made from recycled materials and everything is handmade, so every item is one-of-a-kind.
“We are giving these vendors, most of whom are women, a chance to be creative and earn money by showcasing their crafts.”
As soon as you step into the barn, you feel a sense of community and know that you’re supporting a great place.
For more information and to show your support, visit facebook.com/Brownbarnbistro.