Proud to be The Best Little Dive Bar in Town by Tracy Dietlin
Everyone knows about the Red Barn. It’s been the best little dive bar in town since 1968 and has always been owned by Milo Mallotte. That is until April 1 of this year when John Labrano bought the Barn. Labrano, who had been coming to the desert since the early 70s, had been looking to buy a bar here in town for the last few years. He moved from Long Beach to Palm Desert in 2006. His first time at the Red Barn was about three years ago. “A friend of mine told me to meet him here on a Sunday to watch a football game,” says Lobrano. “I fell in love with it right away and told my friend I wanted to buy it. He laughed and said Milo will never sell it.” Then earlier this year he found out that Milo was actually looking to sell so he hunted him down and took him to breakfast. “We hung out for about 3 weeks,” recalls Lobrano. “We went back and forth to each other’s houses and shared a few meals and finally I just said ‘just give me a fair price of what you want for it and I’ll buy it’ and here we are.”
There have been some positive changes since he took over. The ceilings have been fixed, the walls painted, a small stage installed and a PA for the bands. There’s even been a cool mural painted behind the stage. “I don’t want to change it, I just want to clean it up. I’m not looking to change what it is because I bought it for what it is. But I’m somewhat of a clean freak so it can still be a dive bar but be a clean one,” he says laughing and then adds, “I’m going to redo the bar, replace the carpet and the bathrooms are going to look like the Taj Mahal.” He says that women want a clean bathroom and a bar that’s safe and he’s going to provide both.
And the other thing people want is food. Yes…the Barn now has food which he refers to as their Munchy Menu of bar food. “ I’m not looking to be in the food/ restaurant business but at the same time it’s nice when you’re drinking to be able to have a little something. We have corn dogs, chili, nachos, philly cheese steak, bar food stuff. I put out nuts and snacks between 4-6 so the customers have something salty to munch on while they’re drinking.”
Long time patrons of the Barn’s music scene can still count on seeing their favorite bands perform with an extended schedule for live music that includes Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. They are also doing karaoke on Tuesdays. Labrano shared that he would like to go more classic rock and Top 40 but they will still have metal and the harder stuff, but maybe one or two nights a week instead of three. “I want to have music that people want to get up and dance to. And I wouldn’t mind having 2 bands a night playing on a regular basis with one starting at 8:00 and the other at 10:00. Right now all the bands are starting at 9:00.”
Labrano says he really bought the Barn for his sons. “I have 3 sons and someday this will be theirs. To be honest I’m 47 and getting lazy and I plan on working another 5-7 years and then I want to retire. They’re all MMA fighters and athletes and by then they’ll be in their late 20s and this will be perfect for them.”
Bottom line is The Red Barn is still The Barn and going strong! Check them out on Facebook. 73290 Highway 111, Palm Desert 760-346-0191.