Dairy Barn

For over fifty years, Long Island locals have enjoyed a luxury nonexistent in the rest of the country, a little drive-in convenience store called Dairy Barn. Once in abundance throughout the island, they are sadly growing more scarce with each passing year and their extinction would appear immenent. But they can’t take the memories away.

The story begins in East Northport, circa 1961, where the Oak Tree Dairy Farm was struggling because people no longer preferred to use milkmen. Perhaps taking a cue from the growing fast food industry, they decided to offer a similar car-based convenience, a drive-thru dairy store.

The first Dairy Barn, complete with red paint and white trim, wooden fence and silo, caught the eye and attention of the locals. Soon after, little red barns were popping up from one end of Long Island to the other. They looked something like this:

 

The concept was simple – Drive up to the window, tell the cashier what you wanted, and wait a few moments while they gathered up your groceries and gave you a total. Pay with cash (remember when we used to do that?) and be on your way – food in hand without ever leaving the comfort of your car, or the warmth.

Dairy Barns did especially good business when the weather turned cold, especially for parents of young kids. Oh sure, you could also walk into a Dairy Barn; people did it all the time, but then you were missing out on what made them so unique. It should also be noted that all this convenience did cost you a little by way of slightly-higher prices than your typical store. People were willing to pay.

For decades, Dairy Barn thrived across Long Island, but things started rapidly changing for the worse, as the small company entered the next century. Although they boasted upwards of 70 locations at their height, by 2005 that number was down 51; by 2010, only 44 remained. As of this writing, there are only a mere 5 locations left, and if the past is any indicator, their days may be numbered.

 

But for millions of Long Islanders, both former and current, memories of Dairy Barn won’t soon fade. Countless 1970s kids sat in the backseat while mom picked up a dozen eggs and some Entenmann’s donuts, then drove through themselves once they got their license to drive.

If you are one of them, I do hope that you’ll take a moment to share your memories of these iconic convenience stores with us in our comments section below, as we pay tribute to all those little red barns that were always such a welcoming sight.

Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
RSS
YouTube
INSTAGRAM

You may also like...

16 Responses

  1. Lisa Galati says:

    Wacky packages?

  2. LD says:

    I remember them having the best ice cream.

  3. Anonymous says:

    do you remember a restaurant in nassau county on the south shore caller ronnie alberts??

  4. LR says:

    They had fabulously rich chocolate milk!

  5. robert Derespino says:

    I one of 70 kids and I use hang out behind the dairy barn

  6. Diane Cantley says:

    Does anybody remember the 5 and 10 store in the Dawn shopping center next to that was an Arby’s and across the street with the A & P shopping center in Centereach. Also behind Holbrook Road school was a big big field and around it was the woods.

  7. Dan Martens says:

    though it wasn’t a “true” dairy barn I worked at D & A Drive-in Dairy on Wantagh Ave & Collector La. in Bethpage for years. Was a great job and we got to meet all kinds of people. Anyone remember that one?

  8. Matt says:

    Dairy barn Port Washington. Lived for the iced tea.

  9. Rohmell Brills says:

    Sadly, down to five locations now.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The best product dairy barn sold was its milk. It came in a glass returnable bottle. When I would go there with my parents they would give them the empty bottles and pick up fresh milk. These bottles were cleaned and reused. Now when you recycle it is melted down and reformed. Dairy barn was a great idea but i suppose seven eleven took thier market. I wanted to buy one of the silos from a closed location and move it to rural location. The cost of insurance transportation and intalation were not worth it. Now I am working on a repllicate bird house.l

  11. Michael says:

    Wow!! Awesome sight, Growing up on Long Island in the 60’s and 70’s was awesome!! I grew up near the one in West Hempstead on Woodfield Road,(don’t know if it’s still there or not) Imagine…… milk in Real Glass bottles that were returnable! We even had the metal holder that held 2-1/2 gallons and the red snap on caps to pour the milk! Live in Levittown now and always pass the sight of Happyland AKA as many of us called it Jolly Rogers. Sad to see it gon and another shopping center in its place. And Adventureland is still going strong after 55 years! we are there every week during the season! I hope my kids have some kind of memories like the ones I had growing up on Long Island> Thanks for the Awesome sight!!

  12. Michelle says:

    As a kid, my mom would go to the Patchogue location (still there) and get items including a box of small powdered donuts. The brand was “Swingin” with pictures of people dancing on the box. Anyone remember those?

  13. Gloria Neumair says:

    I was a 70’s kid growing up in Brentwood. The dairy barn store was about 1 1/2 miles from my house. It was located on Brentwood Rd.. across the street from Pathmark. When my sister and I were really good, my dad would send us to Dairy Barn to get a half gallon ( a real half gallon) of chocolate ice cream. In those days, we thought Dairy Barn ice cream was the best in the world. We never minded walking the 3 miles to get there and back. We never minded walking at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.