06880

Little Barn, Big Welcome

An alert “06880” reader — and grateful parent — writes:

Like many local businesses, Little Barn gets hit up for lots of good causes. Donate a gift card to a fundraiser? Buy an ad in a program book? Sponsor a team?

Owners Scott Beck and Kevin McHugh always say “sure!”

But the pair go way beyond donations. They’ve made their casual, friendly Post Road restaurant — formerly Dairy Queen, then Woody’s and Swanky Frank’s — what those other places never were: a “Cheers”-like home-away-from-home, where everyone feels welcome any time, and everybody knows your name. (And your kid’s name.)

Enter here for the Little Barn.

Some of their most devoted customers are Staples High School sports teams.

Take last fall’s freshman football squad. The heart of the squad has been together since 4th grade. Parents formed bonds as tight as the players. They all celebrated together after every game.

Many places viewed the enthusiastic group as an intrusion. Little Barn embraced them.

After the final game of the year — when the 9th graders finished undefeated — parent Miki Scarfo warned the restaurant that this gathering would be particularly large.

“Can’t wait to see you!” they said.

Players and siblings filled the back. Parents hung out in front. The varsity coaches and captains arrived, surprising the freshmen. It was organic, free-form and fun — a snapshot from another part of America, perhaps.

A small part of a large Little Barn gathering.

The rugby and wrestling teams have made Little Barn their own too. It’s where coaches, parents and athletes gather before and after competitions; where their booster clubs meet; wherever anyone goes at a random moment, knowing they’ll be welcome.

Little Barn’s support of Staples goes beyond sports.

Some restaurants with live entertainment hire adult musicians. Little Barn gives student bands a shot. The same parents who meet up for athletes pack the place, supporting the teenagers.

How does everyone know to go? When a gathering takes place, parents often send out texts. A group assembles in minutes. They call it “flashing the bat signal.”

Little Barn owner Scott Beck likes the “bat signal” idea so much, his marketing team created this graphic for it.

Little Barn sounds like a throwback to a different era.

But the “bat signal” texts are all about 2019.

Dairy Queen has sure come a long way.

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