Just off of Sixth Avenue stands a Grinnell legend. An agriculture-esque building with a red roof, Dari Barn is marked by its long lines of eager Grinnellians waiting for their favorite treats. For years, Dari Barn has been serving filling food and ice cream to its legions of fans. It has seen a few owners over the years, but the commitment to good food and ice cream has remained a hallmark over the years.
Though the current owners, Pat and Bob Slagle, plan to retire this year after running the business for nearly 25 years, Dari Barn should change very little. From fried macaroni to monkey tails, the new owners are committed to keeping Grinnellians well fed.
As Dari Barn transitions into the hands of its new owners, Jeanette and Ben McFarland, there should be relatively few changes.
“Jeanette is my niece, so it’s nice to be keeping Dari Barn in the family,” Slagle said.
Open seasonally to entice customers when the weather is hot and the ice cream refreshing, the Slagle’s have a strong community base that comes back year after year.
“The best part of [owning Dari Barn] is meeting the public, meeting the people. … I’ve had girls who have worked for me for all of high school, all of college. We’ve had a lot of girls,” Pat Slagle said.
Dari Barn relies on its customers to grow their business. “We have a lot of loyal customers. It seems like someone always tells another that they like it and then they end up telling more people,” Pat Slagle said.
One aspect that seems to define Dari Barn over the years is its power to bring together friends and family.
“My first Dari Barn experience was on a team run with the women’s cross country team—every fall we planned a run that ended there. It was great team bonding to each get a cone and then walk back to campus together,” said Jen Jacobsen ‘95 in an email. Jacobsen’s experience appears similar to many Grinnellians.
“My freshman roommates were from Iowa, and they were telling us about this great ice cream place. We ended up going during NSO,” said Lindsay Schwartz ‘13.
Connie Coleman remembers a little farther back. “I’m not even sure if it was called Dari Barn then. My grandparents used to bring me into town and we’d stop for a nickel ice cream cone on the way home,” Coleman said.
Dari Barn fills a special niche in the town of Grinnell and its citizens’ hearts. “I quickly learned that going to Dari Barn is just something Grinnellians do. If it’s someone’s birthday, or you need a study break, or need to get out of the library, you walk to Dari Barn,” Stuchiner said.
Students of the college have a particular fondness for the stress outlet that is Dari Barn. “I think it brings students together, because we all love Dari Barn. It’s great after break to go
and see everyone and bond with people,” Schwartz said.
Often however, the most difficult task for fans of Dari Barn is to choose the best item on the menu.“I like the yogurt, usually a mini cone,” Coleman said.
After trying nearly everything on the menu, many times over, the owners’ favorites run the gamut, “Sandwich-wise, I like the tenderloin and my husband enjoys the lamburger. Ice-cream wise, I like the butterslinger sundae and my husband likes the yogurt,” Pat Slagle said.
Almost as Grinnellian as identifying social constructions, nearly every student, alum, and professor has a favorite Dari Barn signature treat.
“My favorite menu item is the s’mores sundae with banana—marshmallow crème, not the little stale marshmallows, please!” wrote Jacobsen.
“I like the grasshopper cyclone.” said Sara Hanneman ‘14.
“I’ve been enjoying the fried macaroni and cheese bites, or the chocolate malt,”said Alexa Stevens ‘15. “The best is the chocolate cyclone with peanut butter cups and cookie dough!” said Joe Sinwell ‘12. “Those chocolate covered bananas [monkey tails] are yummy.” said Amanda Nooter ‘14. “I always get a quart! It’s so cheap! Either I can eat it all, or I can share with Max [Fulgoni ‘12],” said Bill Mogavero ‘12. “All of it,” said Emily Groth ‘14, echoing the sentiments of many a Grinnellian. Apparently, there are many ways to go right when ordering from Dari Barn.
It’s not just the ice cream or food that keeps visitors coming back to Dari Barn however, but the experience. “It’s a nice place. It’s quaint; it’s got soul. It seems like it’s the part of Grinnell that makes a lot of people want to be on this campus. Stuchiner said.
Grinnellians were as excited as ever for another season of ice cream and food, flooding Dari Barn with customers during the warm spring days. Its new owners are ready to tend to Dari Barn and keep the traditions of fun and good taste going. If Dari Barn keeps consistent with its history, the future looks sweet.