The Coffee House and Eatery in Orland
By Melissa Mendonca
Cafe Au Yay!
By Melissa Mendonca
Photo by Jeannine Hendrickson
Terrie Barr loves visiting with her customers at her latest venture, The Coffee House and Eatery in Orland. Having grown up in the area, she says she knows pretty much everyone local, so she can easily tell if someone has pulled off the interstate to grab a bite or a coffee. She'll engage in light banter that brings a welcoming feel to her new guests, offering a more personalized experience for weary travelers going up and down I-5.
“The food is all fresh, and it’s around our gourmet products,” she says, noting that she proudly sources from Sierra Nevada Cheese of Willows, Orland Meat Processors, Chico Honey Company, Old World Smokehouse in Redding and many others. On any given day, it may just be Barr herself pulling baked goods out of the oven that she’s just decided to whip up, from mini lemon meringue pies to chocolate chip cookies.
The coffee house is more than just a year-old cafe, however. It’s part of a complex smorgasbord of businesses Barr and her siblings have developed to keep a building their father acquired when he broke family tradition of being dairymen to become a cabinet maker in town.
The 57-year-old woman grew up in that building, playing with wood scraps at her dad’s feet. “He always encouraged us to just be creative,” she says. Creative she became, building not only the coffee house, but Salvagno’s flower shop, an event planning business, party rental company and small-scale catering business, all out of the corner shop on 6th Street that was a Shell station in the 1950s.
While the original arches of the service station can still be seen in the building, an extensive renovation of the building was undertaken to get it where it is today. The original remodel plans were mocked up on a kitchen table by Barr and her father, and the process took five years to complete. “Up to this day, we have never been financed,” says Barr, noting the frustrations of being a small business owner in an old building on land in an area with depressed property values.
While her father has since passed away, keeping the building vital has become a passion project for Barr, who counts her family roots back to Old World Italy, with a great grandfather entering the United States through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. “It was probably the most blight-ridden corner in all of Orland,” she says. Her father was famous for collecting things to tinker with and lining everything up on his lot.
“It was really hard to lose him,” she says of the man who inspired her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. “It's still a family business, though,” noting that she works closely with brothers Kurt and Clint Salvagno.
Her husband, Richard Barr, has also been supportive. The two met when Richard, a California Highway Patrol officer, responded to an accident Terrie was in on her last day of work traveling from Orland to Redding as a legal secretary. She was tired of the commute, but as fate would have it, she would end up marrying Richard and moving to Redding, starting a daily commute in the opposite direction.
The decision to open the cafe came with the realization that the building could afford more foot traffic, since all other endeavors,
including flowers, are essentially organized over the phone. Barr started taking classes with Butte College’s small business development program. “Their best advice was, 'Don’t do it!'” she says. But “my back was against the wall. I needed something else to support the building.”
While the Coffee House and Eatery is building its reputation, Barr’s event planning business is well established and continues to thrive, despite the intentional cutbacks she's made on advertising. She will no longer do five weddings in a weekend, but says she still enjoys the business, including the challenge of transforming spaces. “We can go into some unattractive spaces, and with time and imagination, turn them into a fairyland,” she says. In fact, the small banquet room in her shop was designed with old wooden olive crates lining a wall to create a dramatic effect.
Barr and her brothers have also taken their talents to the California State Fair to build the Glenn County exhibit. A passion project, they have been the principal builders for 13 of the last 15 years, garnering two Best of Shows and multiple specialty honors, such as People’s Choice, Best Craftsmanship and Best Visitor Experience. In three days, they work 24 hours a day, taking shifts to shower and eat. “It’s unreal, the budgets, the expertise,” she says of the competition.
While the team tried going into retirement from the fair exhibit at one point, “We just missed it too much,” says Barr. That’s what happens when you commit yourself to your home, whether it's a commercial building or the way your community is represented at the State Fair.
The Coffee House and Eatery • 730 6th Street, Orland
(530) 865-4717 • www.thecoffeehouseandeatery.com