By: Emma Commery Photos By: Rachel Benavides
I meet brothers Roland and Roger Rocha in what used to be Salty Oak BBQ on Alameda. The walls are freshly painted, the bar newly built; six red leather booths sit in the middle of the dining room. Big moves are happening here.
The brothers, who opened The Barn Drive-Thru Beer & Keg Haus next door in 2017, have recently taken over the old BBQ joint, and are converting it into The Farm, a patio bar, event center, and the perfect companion to The Barn.
Since 1979, that iconic, geographically unexpected red barn in the middle of the busy intersection of Alameda and Avalon has been a community landmark. Technically a grocery, the drive-thru beer and keg “haus” has been able to remain open during the pandemic.
Prior to opening The Barn, Roger ran hotels for 18 years, while Roland spent 25 years running restaurants. From day one, visions of growing the drive-thru into a full-fledged bar that spanned the entirety of the triangular property pushed them to aim high. This past year, that vision was finally coming to fruition.
The pandemic, of course, has thrown its wrenches, delaying The Farm’s opening by a few months. But like many of us, the brothers are determined to find the silver lining in every setback. “We can take our time now,” says Roger. Roland adds, “The vision we had in the beginning has grown every year … we’re playing our cards close to our chest because of COVID-19, but we’re in a position to make that vision real.”
“We opened The Barn right after Harvey,” Roland says, “so we have a history of starting a business in the midst of disaster.”
And they have a history of succeeding.
Together, they are renovating the interior of the former BBQ joint, working side-by-side day after day, a relationship built on strong communication and faith in one another. They also have a lot of help from their “Barn Animals,” as they call them – friends and family who stop by to help nearly every day. (Yes, there are Barn Animal t-shirts.) “Our mom and dad come in to help all the time,” says Roland. “They enjoy being here and it keeps them busy.” A few weeks ago, Roger had a friend up in the ducts of the new building, helping out just because he wanted to. That’s exactly the family vibe the brothers want The Farm to have for its guests, as well.
So, what exactly can we expect when The Farm opens its doors?
Under current COVID restrictions, The Farm plans to open this September as the food-focused counterpart to The Barn. “We’re making it a wing house,” says Roland. “We do wings really, really well.” Think finger foods, shareable apps, casual snacks … eats you can hold in one hand while you throw darts with the other.
Inside and out, The Farm will be flip-flop-friendly fun with patio games, jukebox music, and casual booth and bar seating for locals, students, tourists, and anyone in the mood for a chill and quirky vibe. In the evenings, the patio will double as a stage for local musicians to showcase their acoustic sound. Guests will be able to grab a drink from The Barn and walk it over to the patio at The Farm. By late afternoon, the South Texas sun will hit the roof of The Barn just right, casting a luxurious shadow over the entire patio. The perfect after-work oasis. And once the restrictions on bars are lifted completely, long-term plans include a full daiquiri bar that very well might become your new favorite place.
“We’re excited,” says Roland, and his eyes are bright with anticipation. “We just want to get it right. We want you to feel like family.”
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