In 1982, the Fire Barn was the inspiration of my mother, Judy Steelglove (later known as Judy Parnham). After working at a nearby pizza restaurant, she decided to start a business of her own. She happened to stumble upon an establishment in our home town, Batavia, IL, that was the heart of the town. As a wife and mother of two, she decided to take a risk and devote the next chapter of her life to the restaurant.
The building was an old firehouse located across the street from the historic Depot. It had two large rolling windows for the firetrucks – no longer in working order, but certainly an attraction. Fire Barn was not only known for its food, but the real-life firetruck that stood in the middle of the restaurant. The entire décor was devoted to the theme, along with a phony fireman coming down a fire pole in the entryway.
Fire Barn was a family-friendly destination, one that held many birthday parties, anniversaries, and not to mention a well-known 1985 Super Bowl party!! The restaurant was equipped with a full bar, arcade, and could seat roughly 400 people. Always packed, it really never felt crowded, which had everything to do with the people of Batavia.
My mother was famous for her one-of-a-kind XXX large pizza, appropriately named the “Five Alarm Pizza”! This was made from four large pizzas, and was served on an old-school fire rescue net. The Five Alarm Pizza would be introduced with the resounding ringing of a fire alarm, along with emergency lights. She also offered “All You Can Eat Crab Legs” and “All You Can Eat Prime Rib” on Saturdays for only $19.95. If you can believe it, some people would wait as long as an hour and half to get a table!!
The restaurant was not just a culinary establishment, it became known as a home-away-from-home for many. Today, myself and my partners have recreated a similar experience in Durand with Fire Barn.