The Barn reopening

Cedar Hill Farm owner Robert Foster cuts the ribbon during last week's grand opening of The Barn at Cedar Hill Farm restaurant at the Love Road farm site. Foster is reopening the restaurant he opened 12 years ago as part of the farm’s operations. The restaurant was discontinued when private events kept it from being open for several weeks at a time.

There was a time when people visited Cedar Hill Farm, 8 Love Road in Hernando, not just to visit the animals, take rides and learn about farm life at the well-known agricultural tourist attraction. They came out to dine and enjoy delicious entrees, salads, and desserts while at the farm’s restaurant.

Cedar Hill Farm owner Robert Foster says the restaurant days are back with the opening of The Barn at Cedar Hill Farm. The restaurant reopened last week and will be serving to the public from 5-9 p.m. each Thursday through Saturday evening.

“About 12 years ago, when I started taking over this business and turning it into a year-round operation, I opened a restaurant and ran it out of the barn for almost two years,” Foster said. “We got very busy and very successful, but then, weddings and barns in rustic settings began being a big thing. We started getting a lot of inquiries about weddings in our barn, so we started hosting a few weddings.”

Foster said as the wedding events became more popular, regular diners would become frustrated because they would come out, only to learn the restaurant was closed that night for a private event.

“We began hosting 1-2 weddings every weekend, so we were having to close the restaurant almost every weekend,” Foster said. “Our customers that were driving out for the restaurant were getting upset about it being closed for weeks at a time, so we had to choose one way or another.”

Since that time, there have become more event venues to offer the wedding experience similar to the Barn, Foster said. But, the wedding event business took a hard hit for everybody when the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year.

“The virus struck and everybody had to shut down,” Foster said. “Due to that, almost all of our private events canceled on us for the entire year. I prayed and thought about it a lot over the last couple of months while we were shut down and I thought that maybe this was the time for us to get back into the restaurant business again full-time.”

People who visit The Barn to eat will now enjoy catfish, steak, and chicken plates, salads, and desserts, most all of which will have a local flavor. The catfish will be Mississippi farm-raised catfish fillet strips, desserts will include Area 51 homemade ice cream, and City Hall Cheesecake.

“We’ve got some recipes that we’ve been using for 12 years now,” Foster said. “We have some house specials, like our barnyard beans that people really, really like. We have a big garden here at the farm and we grow some of our own produce, especially our blackberries and our blueberries. We’re also going to use the seasonal vegetables that we have on our menu.”

Foster added he plans to grow produce in his greenhouse on the farm site which will be part of the menu, “so we can have something on the menu all of the time that is from our farm,” he said.

There are still a couple of wedding contracts that Foster said would be honored if they don’t cancel ahead of time.

“At least this will give us some steady income again when we’re not having our seasonal events,” said Foster. “I think it will be a good thing and I’m kind of excited about it. We have a lot of people who like our food and now they have an opportunity to come whenever they want to.”

With the large operation, patrons will be able to spread out, including the outdoor area, to enjoy the restaurant while staying safe. Tim Jones is the main chef on board with a staff of others that Foster said does include members of his family.

The Barn at Cedar Hill Farm is open Thursday-Saturday evenings from 5-9 p.m. and is located at 8 Love Road, Hernando. Contact cedarhillfarm@yahoo.com or visit gocedarhillfarm.com for more information, or by phone, call 662-429-2540.