It’s hard not to miss our luncheon café at Crazy 8 Barn & Garden.

We grew and nurtured that section of our business since we opened the doors of our reconstructed octagon barn in May 2013. It started humbly as a “brown bag café” as we thought most people would want to grab something to eat in a bag and head back out on the road.  But our customers proved us wrong.  They wanted a break, a place to sit, more hand-made items on our menu, more buttertarts.

For the next seven years, learned a lot about the café business and we tried to be the best at what we did:  scratch-baked bread, English muffins, corn muffins, simple soups-to-die-for, fresh salads and wraps.  In the summer time and weekends we had a profitable café and that held us over in the shoulder-seasons and mid-week lulls.

Then in 2019, Covid-19 closures, shut us down. By mid-May that year, we made the decision to permanently close the luncheon café. This was a bittersweet decision.

We miss our super-dedicated and talented staff, and we miss the camaraderie of our customers cramming into our too-small dining area.  We miss meeting people from around the world and catching up with our neighbours over coffee and tarts.  We also miss eating a nutritious hand-made lunch every day.

However, as we are guiding our business through this new stage, the closure of the café has opened up an incredible amount of time for me to return to my first business love-gardening.  It is amazing the circuitous routes we take in life and in business.  When we first established the Crazy 8 Barn & Garden, I planned for it to be a base for my landscaping business, with display gardens, plants and garden supplies for sale and maybe a coffee pot for landscaping customers.

Oil painting of Crazy 8 Barn & Garden by my mom, Marie Spence.

As I’ve said many times “the barn didn’t want to be that”.

She wanted to show herself to the world.  And she did.  And still does.  First time visitors “ooo and ahhhh” over her “bones” and her soaring loft roof, her shapely cupola and her style.  Return visitors love the circular stairs and the hand-made concrete sinks and the barn-style doors.

She is a one-of-a-kind timeless beauty.  And she is resilient.  She started as rare eight-sided timber frame barn near West Lorne in 1896.  She morphed through additions and changes in farming and near abandonment until we were gifted her in 2003.  We, and she, survived a fun, stressful, money-sucking reconstruction project until she was returned to glory like a fading Hollywood star who gets a character role in a blockbuster movie.

Now, we find ourselves in mid-2021, our business changed and newly opened from the third forced pandemic closure in just over 14 months. Things are different, but also good.

We have formed a collaboration with a local bakery to supply our delicious butter tarts and scones and now we (I, Susanne) have more time to spend in the garden, teaching online garden design courses and thinking about creating more garden activities.  (More about that in future blogs.)

This blog started out to bring you up-to-date on the café changes.  I hope I have done that. And I want to let you know, you are welcome to enjoy a sweet snack and coffee or an ice cream float or cone (made with Shaw’s Ice Cream) as you sit on our upper level deck or one of our welcoming benches in the garden.

And since we’re not using it any more, here is a copy of our Crazy 8 Barn & Garden’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Recipe – Strawberry rhubarb pie (1)