Connor Hobbs is hoping to be a part of helping Five Points live up to its potential as a daytime hot spot as well as a nighttime one.
Hobbs, who along with partners Max Minnillo and Peter Boland--recently opened The Barn bar and grill at 707 Harden St. in the space previously occupied by (Minnillo and Boland's) Rio's Pizza and Bagels. Though it's currently open only in the evenings from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. when bartenders have already been busy serving up margarita and Long Island iced tea towers, Hobbs plans to expand the business hours, adding lunch and bridging to the late evening shift.
"We know that Five Points has its reputation of the college bar scene and we know the city is trying to transform the area into more of a daytime and family-friendly area and we want to be a part of that," said Hobbs, who is also co-owner of The Five Points Saloon. "We want people to feel like they can come here for a nice meal for a good price in a relaxed environment at lunch and then stop by for a beer and some food after work, as well. Then, toward the end of the night, we would change our playlist and transition to the late-night, college crowd."
Currently, chef Blane Shelton is working with Hobbs to cook up some typical bar food served in an atypical manner.
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"We have what we call the 'take and shake' where you come up to the window and order wings and we give you eight wings in a box and your choice of sauce on the side and you take it and pour it in the box and sauce your wings yourself," said Hobbs, who also started Hobbnobbers Carolina Red barbecue sauce company with his father. "Our nachos are also different--instead of a pile of chips with the ingredients on the top, we lay out the chips on a baking sheet and distribute the ingredients evenly and then broil them for 30 seconds to melt the cheese before we serve them laid out on a giant platter. That way every chip has the perfect proportion of ingredients."
Hobbs and his partners originally planned name the business name "Just Wingin' It" but decided to go in a different direction after discovering a restaurant in Clemson already carries that name. The name “The Barn” came about as a result of the restaurant's interior decor.
"Some of the walls are painted in barnyard red and our liquor shelves are made from reclaimed barnwood that I got from a guy in Rock Hill. A couple of the walls are made from reclaimed pallet wood," Hobbs said. "People started coming in and saying, 'This place looks like a barn' and we were like ‘That's it--that has to be the name.’"
The Barn is currently open 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, follow The Barn on Twitter @TheBarnColumbia.