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.

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44 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?

    • Anonymous says:

      Went there all the time! I miss it.. I know some people would call in an order esp when they wanted cold cuts it would be ready when they drove up.. the building is still there- wish somebody would bring it back.. I suppose with 7-11 so close it hurt the barns business.. to bad!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes I remember that one well

  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!!

    • Alice says:

      I’m from WH too. Wonder if we know each other. Same story as you. But we stopped buying Dairy Barn milk at some point because Gouz was closer and it was easier to handle the cartons. Unfortunately my brother dropped one of the Dairy Barn glass gallons in our garage and ended up cutting his hand very badly. Not to mention the smell of sour milk in the garage after that. Just seemed safer to switch to cartons.

  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.

    • Mark F says:

      I have a distinct memory of going to this Brentwood location as a kid. The specific memory was that there was a hurricane coming, and it was very windy. I also recall that in my earlier years, we had milk delivered to our stoop. There were diaper trucks driving the hood too.

    • Raul Lopez says:

      Man I grew up in Brentwood in the 70’s and remember the Dairy Barn across from PathMark. We would walk to the 5&10, Draggo’s Pizza, Brents City (Grant s) and the Brentwood Theater. I miss old Brentwood.

  14. Melissa Tropeano says:

    Grew up in East Islip. Moved to Connecticut as an adult and when my daughter was a baby I was soooo wishing for a Dairy Barn so that I could grab milk and eggs easily without lugging my daughter in the heavy car seat out into the rain/snow.

    • Mary says:

      I also miss Dairy Barn. Remember going as a kid all the time and as an adult living in Commack I thanked God I could drive through without taking my 2 young children out of the car to get milk for their bottles and a snack for me! Now I’m stuck living in Mn the snow capital of the US and nothing at all like a dairy Barn here. I really miss it and all of Long Island!

  15. Frank Janosko says:

    I grew up in Merrick and we had one (still there I think). I live in Raleigh, NC now and about a year ago I was taking an Uber to work and the driver told me he was doing that until he could get his business off the ground.

    Curious, I asked him about that business, and he was perfectly describing a Dairy Barn. When I said that, he said that he had also lived in Merrick and we knew some of the same people! His plan was to bring a Dairy Barn-style place here in North Carolina. Now I’m wondering how he did.

  16. Mary says:

    Does anyone remember going to matinecock dairy farm in Plainview? I would go with my grandma who would buy us kids snacks then we would go outside and pet the farm animals through the fence. This was about 1972.

  17. Gary says:

    I remember Dairy Barn in East Meadow- Hempstead Turnpike. My sister worked there in the summer of 1083( a little past the 70’s/ but it was still going strong). I can imagine as a Long Island kid how fun it must have been to work at a dairy barn. You got to meet all kinds of people.

  18. Ameri says:

    We had a non dairy barn drive in deli. Shopping in your pajamas before the internet!

  19. Tony says:

    I remember Dairy Barn. My grandfather worked for them in Freeport, Hewlett, and Wantagh. They were the official milk of the Nets and the Tomahawks the LI Semi-Pro Lacrosse team that played at the Nassau Colosseum back in the late ’70s.

  20. Ken says:

    Working at Dairy Barn is how I paid for my first car After school job. 1969-1971 @ East Meadow location (5-corners) where Levittown,Wantagh ,and East Meadow met.

  21. Megan says:

    My husband grew up on long island. We just got back from taking a vacation to see his family. He had to stop by dairy barn to pick up his coveted dairy barn ice tea. There are only a few locations still opened. A staff member told us that the company had gone bankrupt and most locations closed. A lady bought as many locations as she could to keep them opened. It was nice not having to get out of the car with such horrible humidity.

  22. Tom ( Massapequa ) says:

    Recall having milk bottles break while driving home on a bicycle…they were replaced each time.

  23. Jane says:

    I grew up on Long Island (Farmingdale) and my high school boyfriend at the time (this was around 1981), Ira, worked at the Dairy Barn “302” in Deer Park (I’m pretty sure it was Deer Park). I loved that little store and it was easier than 7-11. Sad to read that there are just a few left now – what a loss!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Jane, the one in Deer Park was 306, the 302 store was N. Babylon up on the hill

    • Hello I just happen to stumble onto this site…
      Thank you for the videos …..I was brought to tears hearing seeing watching the 70s brought back fantastic memories…Thank you
      May anyone remember Jolly Rogers..
      I’ll never forget Zips ice cream parlor…or Woolworths lunch counter… There is no place like Long Island simple the best place to grow up as a kid.

  25. Pam says:

    Yes! I remember going to the dairy barn as a kid. What a great idea for mom’s with kids. Remember sitting in the back seat, no seatbelts back then. Ahhh, back in the day. 🙂

  26. mike says:

    Luckily I was just at my beloved Dairy Barn in Copiague/Lindenhurst just a day or so ago where I grabbed the standard 2 for 5$ icetea and Lemonade so I could make Arnold Palmer’s for the kids. what a true Long island CLASSIC innovative convenience store! It will be a sad day when that location closes. My only hope if that happens is that like other closed down location s someone re-opens with another name.. Don’t forget if you find yourself and that drive-thru at the window as your server is ringing you up make sure you tell them exactly how you intend on paying so they can bring you your change along with your items. I appreciate this forum for letting Long island folks reminisce about this legendary staple.

  27. Rich says:

    Just now found out the one in Northport is closing on 8/2/2020. Been going there 40 years. I’m all fershimmeled.

  28. Ricky says:

    Grew up in Levittown and have great memories of driving thru with my family. Eventually I ended up working and then managing the dairy Barn in Long Beach…oh those summers were great. I now live in CT and boy we sure could use one here….

  29. Cliff Craig says:

    I used to work for them back in the seventies as a day manager. Was fun but hard work especially when you were alone. Fond memories of all the guys I worked with.

  30. Maria says:

    Commack Dairy Barn! Great chocolate ice cream, chocolate donuts, and more. Great memories! I would think they would still be popular. Very convenient.

  31. Brian gode says:

    Too many nice things have bit the dust businesses I recall dairy barns glass milk bottles red handles like rubber on tops of them as is things comes and go too bad volks want garbage not the simple life as I have with my senorita Nathan’s Oceanside use to be much nicer when first built comedy band entertainment full house when it works why ruin it it is not the business but the volks customers also our government phonies regulations that ruin things I could name more besides high prices cause of crime you do the crime do the time 2 many repeaters that should stay locked up give them nothing not be easy on them credit cards I donot have or like we spend dinero we donot have work long hours not enjoying life more often we have not done things better respect of all is needed more just because one is a bit different does not make him or her loco or to be avoided I was always taught grew up you want it you work for it respect others we are all gods children creations no matter race color or elsewise honesty simplicity life is the best thank you have a nice day if you can

  32. Anonymous says:

    If youre on Long Island, a cookie company named Gina & Joeys brought back the original dairy barn iced tea. Original recipe. Check them out.

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