The Barnwood Restaurant is for sale – one board at a time – for $2 a foot.
The popular Ripon dining stop for motorists traveling on northbound Highway 99 for some 35 years is soon to be replaced by a more modern business and the old restaurant is going to be razed – what’s left of it, that is.
People in search of weathered barn wood – both inside and out – have been traveling to Ripon by appointment to pick up the lumber they want, strip it off the building and haul it away in their trucks. It is wood that cost the Mangelos family only the sweat of their brows. They had devised a plan to tear down five old barns at no cost to the farmers in the valley and used the wood for their new family restaurant 37 years ago.
The doors to the Barnwood’s bathrooms came from the Holiday Inn in Modesto that was being remodeled in 1979. The booths and the dining tables are from a door company that had seconds, damaged with bad varnish finishes.
The late Paul Mangelos built the tables from the doors as well as a fire extinguisher cabinet mounted near the front door, John said of his dad. Large vertical beams that supported the roof and the second floor meeting room came from the Ladd Ranch that ran along the Stanislaus River bottom all the way to Kiernan Avenue. The barn at the Ladd Ranch had been built in 1850 — the age of the beams.
The ceiling’s 1X12 boards came from five ranch barns: Ladd, Nunes, Scaberina, Doraz Ranch in Turlock; and the Rocha Ranch in Escalon. They were all barns that had been wind damaged and searched out by Joe and John Mangelos who tore them down for their free wood.
The stones that formed the face of the fireplace in the larger dining room came from the Jamestown area in the foothills. The table tops in that room came from a San Francisco Bank and they were purchased from an architectural salvage company. The Venetian marble that graced the tables came from the teller line in the bank.
The chairs in the back dining room came from the Lonesome Cowboy Restaurant in Modesto. Sister Ella covered all those chairs that had only wood seats – all 75 of them. Mother Katherine Mangelos made sure her boys had a hot lunch while they were busy working on their restaurant.
Reports from employees steadfastly claimed the upstairs was haunted, saying they could hear children running, laughing and giggling when they were up there alone. It was a scary time for them and they didn’t want to go upstairs, staff members said.
Longtime chef and owner John Mangelos said the second floor wood in the “haunted” private dining room was originally intended for a Victorian home that was never built. He said he was fortunate to find it, but extremely puzzled how the young ghosts were included in the purchase.
Both Joe and John Mangelos can be seen in their Barnwood Gun Shop in downtown Ripon on a daily basis.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.