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Ripon dining icon closing after 33 years
Shoulder injuries forced decision
Barnwood-closing-DSC 3236-LT
Olympic Chef John Mangelos stands in front of his Barnwood Restaurant located on East Main Street adjacent to the northbound Highway 99 freeway on ramp. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Ripon Chef John Mangelos has mixed emotions about closing his Barnwood Restaurant after 33 years due to shoulder injuries that have kept him from doing his job at the restaurant and catering operation.

“It is my functionality and not my creativity that has gone out the window,” Mangelos said on Friday.

Mangelos gained notoriety over the years working with the Olympic Games from Athens, Greece to Salt Lake and Torino as well as being involved in the Games in China.  He was currently making plans to work the upcoming Olympics in Russia.

The longtime Ripon chef has also prepared entrees for the Millennium Party and for Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow as well as having done a lot of work for Bourbon companies in Kentucky paring food with bourbon.

Wine dinners in his restaurant have been a passion for Mangelos for the past 28 years, which, he would hope to continue if someone were to rent the restaurant he has run for more than three decades.  Searching the Mangelos personal history on Google brings up some nine pages of material.

For the catering jobs he has already contracted, Mangelos said he has partnered with another catering firm in the area that he is confident will do a wonderful job instead.  The restaurant has also been the meeting place for the Ripon Rotary Club every Wednesday at noon.  He noted that Spring Creek Country Club has expressed its willingness to host the club once he shuts down on May 31.

Mangelos explained he has had surgeries on both of his shoulders in an attempt to repair tendon injuries – a surgery that was unsuccessful in one shoulder.  The other is expected to take a year to heal, he said, not being able to lift anything in the meantime.

He had a recent offer to sell the restaurant to become a fine dining steak house, but that fell through, he noted.  Mangelos added that he would be willing to rent the facility for $5,000 a month to an acceptable tenant.  It could house many different things including an antique shop, he quipped.

The chef and longtime community supporter was just 25 years old when he opened the business with money earned working for a hotel while in college and subsequent investments he had made early in life, buying the property in 1979. 

“It’s been a wonderful dream having a restaurant,  until you get to that point where you can’t do what you want to do,” he said.  “I hope to do consulting work and help make others’ restaurants become more profitable.”

Mangelos attended Cal State Stanislaus and received his culinary education through Cornell University.  The hotel chain he worked for sent him to culinary school.

As far as looking back to his dream years in the restaurant business, he admitted, “It’s just a lot of physical labor.”