Green Barn Whiskey Kitchen in Red Bluff
By Melissa Mendonca
Back at the Barn
Story by Melissa Mendonca
Photos by Alexis LeClair
WHEN BRUCE GEVEDEN decided to refresh the venerable Green Barn Steakhouse in Red Bluff, he looked to his Kentucky roots to add a twist to the institution that’s been known and loved since 1959. After a two-month renovation, the restaurant reopened in December 2018 as Green Barn Whiskey Kitchen. Beef and whiskey are at center stage, with bourbon showing up across the menu as well as in the bar.
“We brought it back to a steakhouse,” says Geveden. “Tehama County is a beef town. We have a lot of cattlemen and cattlewomen that support the restaurant and I wanted to bring it back to their liking.” Steaks are Certified Angus. Other meats are sourced locally from A&R Meats in Red Bluff. Julia’s Fruit Stand in Los Molinos provides produce during its growing season.
Geveden and partner Bambi Schumacher teamed up with local graphic designer Heather Vine to develop a modern-concept steakhouse that still honors the traditions of its heritage. Steampunk accents add whimsy to the classic steakhouse feel. A new covered outdoor seating area invites patrons to a more casual experience.
“The steak sandwich, which has stayed the same, is pretty hard to beat,” says Geveden. Adding to the lineup is a broader range of steak options, prime rib and flourishes such as shrimp, scallops and lobster toppings. The fried pickles, which have been a longtime fan favorite, remain. “That was my mother’s recipe,” says Geveden.
Then there’s the whiskey, a staple ingredient. “I’m from Kentucky,” he adds. “I go back to Bourbon County about once a year.” That’s where his love of bourbon was born, and what fuels his interest in keeping 65 different bottles in the bar and a menu of whiskey-infused dishes. “We do a lot of the old-style bourbon recipes,” he says, noting that a favorite cookbook is called “Eat Your Bourbon” by Matt Jamie. Whiskey shows up in sauces and dressings and a special mushroom butter saute for steaks. “I travel a lot so I’m always looking for new things,” he says. Geveden also owns a construction business, which keeps him on the road.
As for the bar, a whiskey-forward menu is complemented by local craft beers and weekly cocktail specials his bartenders dream up. When asked his favorite whiskey, Geveden immediately answers Makers Mark 46, but then quickly reels off others, such as Old Forester – “That’s hard to beat” – and Buffalo Trace. He finally determines, “All whiskeys are good, just some better than others.”
While the restaurant itself underwent significant improvements such as new flooring, wallpaper, steampunk accents, upgraded kitchen appliances and ADA seating in the private dining area, all with new furniture, many front-of-house and kitchen staff remained. “The wait staff has been there quite a few years,” says Geveden. These are the people regulars look forward to seeing, whether on a weekly basis or for an annual visit during the Red Bluff Bull Sale in January or Round Up Rodeo in April. General Manager Melissa Alvarez keeps it all running smoothly.
In January, the restaurant began a brunch service with specialty dishes such as shrimp and grits, Monte Cristo and huevos rancheros. Patrons look forward to a monthly Paint Night with artist Lacy Wilson, who guides them through an art piece with craft cocktail complement. Within six months of reopening, the upgraded restaurant earned Best of Tehama in several categories, including Restaurant and Steak.
The re-imagined restaurant is just what Geveden was hoping for when he took the reins for the second time. “I kept the core the same but I made enough changes that it brought it back to life,” he says. “It’s a unique experience. It’s pretty popular.”•
Green Barn Whiskey Kitchen
5 Chestnut Ave., Red Bluff
Melissa Mendonca is a graduate of San Francisco State and Tulane universities. She’s a lover of airports and road trips and believes in mentoring and service to create communities everyone can enjoy. Her favorite words are rebar, wanderlust and change.