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Old Barn roadhouse reopens

GOLD HILL — After a year and a half of remodeling, the Old Barn on Rogue River Highway is open again — this time as an eclectic dinner house-dance club replete with intimate dining spaces, sports-bar televisions, antique decorations and flashing light shows.

I've always wanted to create the quintessential roadhouse — the charming place out on the old highway, where you could bring your wife, lover or fiancee, have an intimate dining experience, then go upstairs and finish the night with dancing and entertainment, said owner Dennis Dodd.

Nestled between the Rogue River and the freeway, the Old Barn — an actual dairy barn from the 1960s — offers steak, seafood and pasta in snug booths and dining nooks, all decorated with cut-glass dividers and expensive antiques.

— — — The Old Barn

— Location:

97 — Rogue River Highway (take Interstate 5 to exit 43).

— — Hours:

Open — Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to — p.m. for lunch, 4 to 10 p.m. for dinner, with dancing — and bar available until midnight (except Friday and Saturday, when it stays open till 2:30 a.m.).

— Phone:

855-9735. — —

Upstairs, in the old hayloft, a spacious bar features four TV screens, a dance floor, twirling, flashing lights and mirrors and special-effects mist — all produced by nightclub manager and former theatrical producer Kelly Edwards.

I've always wanted to run a restaurant-lounge that had IT, said Edwards. That's where you walk in and immediately feel a real sense of pulse-pounding excitement. We've put together the best light show of any dance floor in the valley. The sound is crisp and clear without being loud.

It's what you?d go to Reno for, but without having to go to Reno.

The decor of the place reflects Dodd's love of antiques and collectibles. The Old Barn museum features Depression-era tin toys, period photographs, license plates, model planes, ships and arrowheads, some designed into walls and hallways.

That's what makes it a steak house-museum, said Dodd. It's eclectic, with something of everything, but based around Depression-era tin toys, which fascinate me because only the rich kids had them.

Dodd and his wife, Peggy, live in Anaheim, Calif., and own a machine shop there. They spent $1 million, half on the property and half on remodeling, to create their quintessential roadhouse.

I'm only interested in doing old buildings with lots of history. It turns me on, he said. We pulled all our retirement money and rolled the dice on this project.

The Old Barn was open for less than a year before Dodd shut it down to completely refurbish it and assemble a new management team, he said.

Dodd said he is targeting a more mature, over-30, upwardly mobile clientele that includes everyone from yuppies to RVers on vacation.

At the Old Barn, Wednesday evenings are Jamorama nights, with guest hosts and open mike for local musicians and singers. Edwards, the crooning mixologist, wears a wireless microphone and sings with bands as he dispenses drinks.

Thursdays feature karaoke from 8 p.m. to midnight with contestants donating $5 to a kitty for best performer of the year.

Friday and Saturday nights will see the best of local bands — classic rock, blues, rhythm and blues and a little jazz, said Edwards. Sunday will feature sports on television or comedy improv.

Patio dining is available in back of the red-painted, shake-roofed barn. Upstairs allows smoking (thanks to a big exhaust fan) and is handicap accessible.

The Old Barn has a 110-year-old snooker table, the only one in the Rogue Valley, claimed Edwards, with staff eager to teach customers how to play the billiard-like game.

For its grand opening week, the Old Barn is featuring music by Chase N the Blues tonight and Saturday night. A Super Bowl Opening Party is planned Sunday starting at 2:30 p.m. with door prizes, giveaways and dancing after the game.

Former theatrical producer Kelly Edwards manages the nightclub part of the Old Barn, a restaurant-dance club on Rogue River Highway near Gold Hill. The Old Barn reopens this week after a year and a half of remodeling. - Jim Craven photo