In 1959, novice restauranteurs Thad Eure, Jr and Charles Winston bought 50 acres of pastureland on a desolate section of Highway 70, halfway between Raleigh and Durham. Believed by many to be misguided due to its rural location, the young entrepreneurs were unable to receive bank funding. However, Eure and Winston were determined, and borrowed from every person who had a modicum of faith in them to raise the money. Based on dining preferences of the time, they decided the restaurant would have a steak and potato-based menu; and the legendary Angus Barn concept was launched.
On June 28, 1960, the double doors of the now fabled red barn swung wide to receive the Angus Barn’s first guests. Everyone experienced what Eure and Winston originally envisioned: incomparable hospitality; an excellent value; a meal of impeccable quality; served in a rich, rustic Americana ambience. Unbeknownst to all that night many years ago, the southern gentleman with no previous restaurant experience would establish both a local and national landmark. In 1978, Eure bought out Charles Winston who went on to pursue other successful hospitality endeavors.
After Thad Eure Jr’s death in 1988, at the young age of 56, his wife Alice and daughter Van continued to co-own and manage his beloved “Big Red.” Now owned and operated by Van and her husband Steve Thanhauser, the Angus Barn is staffed by a loyal hard-working team, many of whom have built lifelong careers at the Angus Barn. “I may own the barn,” says Eure, “but the customer is the true boss. Customers can choose to close your doors simply by taking their business elsewhere. I am here to guide my Angus Barn family in recognition that each guest to walk through our doors is our boss.”
Through its trials and triumphs, multitudes of loyal guest have made the Angus Barn one the nation’s 50 highest grossing independent restaurants, consistently ranked as one the 100 best restaurants in the United States. In 1989, Wine Spectator magazine bestowed its coveted Grand Award upon the Angus Barn Wine Cellar for the first time. It would be an honor repeated consecutively over 30 years and bestowed once again this past week for 2020.
In 2008 the Pavilion was born. A large open-air dining and event facility overlooking Angus Barn’s scenic lake, constructed almost entirely of reclaimed materials dating back to the 18th century. “The pavilion combines a unique charm, with the incomparable hospitality Thad Eure Jr, started 60 years ago,” says Thanhauser.
Since that first night in June 1960, over 21,000 nights and 14,000,000 guests later, generations continue to make the Angus Barn a cherished part of their lives. Today Big Red can seat close to 900 guests and employees over 400 team members. Although it is still famous as a “Beef Eaters Haven,” serving over 22,000 steaks per month, the menu of the barn has expanded to include poultry, seafood and pasta, as well as including options for today’s more nutrition conscious guests.