Iconic Beef Barn restaurant moves to new location in North Smithfield

NORTH SMITHFIELD – In the late 1970s, Rolande Branchaud found herself a single mother of two and the owner of a failing restaurant that would become an icon of North Rhode Island: the Beef Barn.

Today, the 50-year-old family business finds itself once again at a crossroads.

Although the Beef Barn has been in the same area for half a century, it has never owned the building or land it inhabits.

The dangers of this lack of ownership became clearer in December 2017, when Coffee & Cream, a popular breakfast and café that shares the same plot, burned down.

The company that owns the land has offered no guarantee that a future tenant would be a compatible business. And he indicated that rents would increase sharply, according to Michelle Branchaud, the daughter of Rolande Branchaud and current owner of the business with her brother, Marc Branchaud.

So now the Beef Barn hits the road, but doesn’t stray far from its roots.

On the left, Michelle Branchaud and her brother Marc, owners of the Beef Barn, at their new location in North Smithfield.  Right, Roger Branchaud, first cousin of Normand Branchaud (Marc's father), and Leslie Branchaud, Marc's wife, who helps make things work.

The original Beef Barn, which will remain open until Sunday at 1 Greenville Rd., Was designed by Normand Branchaud, Rolande’s husband at the time, although a key part of it dates from Normand’s father. , Milton Branchaud.

Milton and his two brothers, Ernest and Henry, owned Pound Hill Dairy Farm, which like most dairy farms had a barn and silo.

Over the years, the silo ended up being moved to the Marshall Farm, where it was sitting in 1969 when Normand envisioned the Beef Barn.

“Normand might have struck a deal,” said cousin Roger Branchaud.

When the Beef Barn first opened, it featured a small dining room in the silo, adjoining the rest of the restaurant.

Marc Branchaud at the door of the second building of the new site.

Normand’s children say that although their father was creative – he was the force behind Coffee & Cream and other restaurants in the area – he was not much of a businessman.

When Rolande divorced Normand – the decree was final in 1980 but had been drafted for years – the Beef Barn was bankrupt. Marc and Michelle credit their mother, who was a hairdresser in Manville before embarking on the restaurant business, for making it a lasting success.

The new Beef Barn at 200 Industrial Drive, about two miles from the original, will feature the original Milton Farm silo.

After the original restaurant closes on Sunday, the silo will be dismantled, along with the refrigeration and other restaurant equipment, and moved to the road, where it will again be a dining room with five tables for two.

Interior of the second building on the site of the new Beef Barn, where ice cream, simple breakfasts and other foods will be sold.

The new Beef Barn will look familiar to patrons of the old restaurant. The layout will be built around a central U-shaped service counter, but the silo will be to the left rather than the right of the counter and the dimensions will be a little more spacious.

The menu will be the same, with the signature roast beef and pastrami sandwiches, as well as steak sandwiches, burgers, chicken cutlets and fries, plus something new: beer and wine.

Customers will find a much larger 65-car parking lot on the six-acre lot the Branchauds bought for $ 450,000. The Branchauds have invested more than that in renovations to two existing buildings on the property, including an addition of posts and beams to the main restaurant building.

A rock sign at the new location of Beef Barn.

What will be brand new for current customers is the second building: the Pound Hill Creamery & Café, reminiscent of Milton and his brothers of the Pound Hill Dairy Farm.

The ice cream parlor will offer ice cream, coffee, and simple breakfast foods from Gifford, such as muffins, bagels, egg sandwiches and fruit cups.

The main restaurant and the dairy will have indoor and outdoor seating.

The Branchauds hope to open the new location – they will maintain a second Beef Barn in Bellingham, Massachusetts – by Labor Day weekend.

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