It was another steamy summer night as bluesy rock chords rang out from the walls at Billy’s Barn in Salem. Inside the crowd was divided. Some hung close to the bar where two friendly female bartenders were pouring drinks and serving up cold beers, including the newest draft offering, the Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewery. The remainder were heating things up further on the dance floor to the sounds of the Steel Cookin’ Band playing the R&B classic “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter So Mean”. Billy’s Barn is known by many as a locals’ place that serves up consistently good American food, most nights with a side of live music. What some don’t know is that it’s also a place steeped in history.
Located at 1790 Thompson Memorial Dr., Billy’s Barn originally opened its doors in 1969. Billy Miles Sr., who erected the original building, operated the eatery until 1993. During those early years, Billy Sr. built a solid reputation for the restaurant, delivering high quality meals and entertainment that established a loyal customer base. Billy Sr. was also a real character, and his personality and reputation made the place a beloved destination. A weekly seafood buffet was such a hit with customers that some of the older patrons still reminiscence about it now 30 years later.
In a recent interview, current manager and Billy Sr.’s grandson, Chad Miles, spoke fondly of his memories, “In the ‘70s and ‘80s this was one of three places that did live music and dance music. The place had a big city feel. Athletic coaches and celebrities, and people in the know, came through these doors.”