LINCOLN PARK — Even at its own deliberate "low & slow" pace, the time had come for a renovation at Barn & Company.
"The neighborhood changes, just like anything else over a five-year period of time," said Gino Bartucci, who joined the ownership team earlier this year. "It's always nice to keep it fresh."
And the timing was right, he added, with the expected influx of new residents at Elevate Lincoln Park, about to start renting to its first tenants around the corner, as well as developments under construction down Lincoln Avenue at Montana Street and, of course, the Lincoln Common.
The thing is, when it comes to a barbecue spot with a loyal following, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and nothing was broken about what the kitchen was delivering, although Bartucci did say the restaurant will be adding southern fried chicken to the menu.
"First of all, I think the barbecue's great," Bartucci said. "The neighborhood always took well to the place. You don't want to change it too much."
But there's a bright new "when pigs fly" mural on the facade, and the interior has generally been streamlined to make it more welcoming as a destination.
The patio has had a retractable roof installed, and it seals tight enough to make it a year-round dining area. The resaturant will basically kick it off Wednesday by putting a pumpkin patch on the patio, while serving hot toddies and spiked apple cider.
"It makes a big difference," Bartucci said. "It gives a good, outdoor feel in all types of weather."
The front bar has been sleekened, with red stools as well, and new booths have been added to the dining room, replacing the old bunkhouse-style tables.
"It's not so dark and kitschy, as a lot of barbecue places are," Bartucci said.
Also new are Slurpee-style frozen concoctions, including a red sangria-margarita mix that's proved popular with Barn & Company's Oklahoma Sooner patrons.
Also coming, in the back, will be some arcade games Bartucci described as "old-school Americana classics" — pinball and the like. Work on the minor rehab is expected to be more or less completed in a couple of weeks.
Bartucci said he wouldn't be surprised if it took another five years or more to make significant changes after this, adding, "We're in the low and slow business."