The pandemic’s “shelter at home” measures have prompted improvised reinvention on the part of numerous existing restaurants located in metropolitan Louisville, but what if an entity is faced with overhauling the business plan before it even has had the chance to open for business?

Such was the quandary faced in March by Barn8 in Oldham County, one of several restaurants slated to open during the period of the pandemic’s onslaught, although by almost any metric the most ambitious effort, serving as the on-site edible component of a larger destination experience at historic Hermitage Farm.

Barn8 is a fresh take on farm-to-table dining. Originally Barn 8 of Hermitage Farm’s historic horse stables, this innovative and delightful venue treats guests to sumptuous Kentucky flavors, all carefully composed from on-site gardens. This southern experience is truly unique.

As with its food service brethren statewide, Barn8 quickly reformatted and was able to begin service in early April, albeit in a form not originally envisioned.

Barn8 Restaurant & Bourbon Bar is now offering BBQ Smoked Meats and Sides for contactless curbside pick-up beginning Friday, May 1.
The weekly menu will alternate between a variety of smoked meats sold by the pound and Southern a la carte sides by the pint. Contactless curbside pick-up is available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4 to 8 p.m. Orders must be placed in advance online at any time Monday through Thursday; and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday up until 5 p.m. Folks can also order by calling (502) 398-9289 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
With a focus on seasonality, executive chef Alison Settle’s new BBQ program utilizes the restaurant’s on-site gardens, as well as sister farm Woodland’s hogs, lamb, duck, and even some vegetarian options. Sample sides include fingerling potato salad, pimento mac & cheese, and cole slaw.
Barn8 shifted its focus to curbside service at the beginning of April, offering locally sourced farm-to-table family meals. The decision to move to limited a la carte options will help streamline service and staff, and thus increase safety measures.
Also available to purchase are rare whiskeys, aged bourbons, wine, and specialty spirits from the restaurant’s extensive Bourbon Library.

The dream is alive, merely in altered form.

Recently at Louisville Business First, Haley Cawthon interviewed Executive Chef Alison Settle, and it’s a fascinating look into Barn8’s pivot: When coronavirus delayed its grand opening, this Oldham County restaurant adapted.

Of particular insight is this excerpt. America’s food service industry no longer is working for the weekend. Rather, we’re working for the future.

What are you most thankful for given the circumstances?

I wouldn’t say I’m thankful for any of this. What I can say for sure, though, is that it has been a great exercise in finding gratitude for the positive moments. Our opening was slated for March 18. While our horticulture team was working hard and we had a lot of growth to show our visitors, I think we are all very pleased that our likely opening will now occur when our greenhouse, prop house, and plots will be full of herbs, fruits, and vegetables to display. I feel good knowing we have more time to hammer out the last-minute details of our menus and service. With two locations for events at the Main House and our Hayloft event space above Barn8, a restaurant, two retail stores, and multiple tours showcasing our bourbon, history, equine operations, and greenhouse garden, we had so many moving parts to coordinate. We’re our best to stay relaxed, positive, and engaged in this beautiful agritourism project we’ve all poured so much into. We look forward to having all of you join us, soon. I promise it will be something unlike anything in Kentucky, and something that will truly make you proud of the Bluegrass State.