By Sarah Wright
SYRACUSE — In a March 17 Facebook post, Shanda and Chris Scheeren of Blue Barn Berry Farm stoked community excitement after announcing Farmhouse, “the artist formerly known as ‘Dewart Lake Inn.’”
Located at 9522 N. 300E, Farmhouse will enable Blue Barn’s operations to grow while offering an auxiliary meeting space and a new restaurant for the community.
“Shanda’s already had six booking requests, and it doesn’t officially exist yet,” Chris, who handles communications for Blue Barn, shared, stating the community’s response has been fantastic.
The couple had begun looking for an additional property as many of Blue Barn’s operations needed space to grow. The venue was booked through 2022, so having an auxiliary meeting space would be ideal. Additional storage was also necessary for the successful Blue Barn Fresh, a food service launched last summer during the pandemic, and the new Blue Barn Fundraising.
Seeing the old Dewart Lake Inn on sale again, they decided it was the ideal location to bring catering in-house while realizing storage and meeting space needs. But then, there was the restaurant.
“The logical use for a restaurant is to be used as a restaurant,” Chris said, adding, “We don’t know 100% what the restaurant will be. We’ve had discussions and are looking to find the right (restaurant) partner.” He hinted one might have been uncovered but noted nothing had been finalized, and they are always interested in connecting with creative people.
As for the name, Chris stated, “Farmhouse marries nicely with our existing brand. At our core, we are a blueberry farm with deliveries and weddings. We have chickens running free.”
In line with branding, the aim is for a localized feel with farm-to-fork entrees. “It’ll be a cool restaurant with a really nice meeting space. We’ll also redo the patio and have outdoor seating.”
The property has a long past and a family tie to the Sheerens, with Shanda’s aunt and uncle, Cindy and the late Stan Harper, having operated Harper’s on the site in 1979 after purchasing the property from Howard Woodward in 1978. Chris noted Cindy Harper recalled the property had been home to a miniature golf course and hot dog stand in the ’50s and ’60s when she was a child.
The Harpers owned the property for seven years before selling it in 1986 to Dick and Meridith Daniels, who rechristened it as CJ’s.
“It’s a real source of pride (for Cindy),” Chris said of the property returning to the family.
“We are a small family-owned and operated business,” Chris said, noting Shanda’s mom Peggy Bucher co-owns Blue Barn Berry Farm with her. “She’s the grounds keeper, helps with all the events, is the mother of the chickens — the head hen — the berry expert and the backbone of the joint.”
While the site has seen several turnovers, Chris noted they have received incredibly nice comments from people who are betting on their success and also cited a strong existing audience through Blue Barn Berry Farm, which will reduce risk.
“I would bet on Shanda in everything,” he said, pointing to her successes with Blue Barn Berry Farm and how it has grown. “Shanda is magical.”
Follow Blue Barn Berry Farm’s Facebook page for future updates.