Barney’s: new owners, same burger




Ron and Beth Aylsworth of Wadena run Aylsworth House Movers, which has been a family business for over 130 years. The business specializes in moving large buildings such as pole sheds, garages, houses and barns. (Brian Smith photo).


Barney’s: new owners, same burger


Many locals are familiar with the jolly and charismatic Gary (Barney) Bond and have heard his interesting and funny stories. 

Many have heard how Barney got into the bar business due to a $31 bar tab, which led him to work part-time at the bar, then full-time until he bought the bar and named it Barney’s in 1972. 

“It is kind of like the movie “The Godfather” – it’s a family business,” joked the Wadena man as he talked about why he chose cousin Julie Bente and her partner, Jim Holt, to take over the bar.

“I’ll still be around,” added Barney, who lives across the street from the business.

“Barney’s been successful in this, and he thinks enough of us to give us that chance,” said Julie. 

“It’s an honor to us,” added Holt.

Walking into Barney’s, one may notice the many of pictures of the ‘70s Wadena Rock Festival, or the metal stools that line the bar. The bar itself has stories to tell for people far and near. 

“It’s Barney’s, it has been here for 41 years,” laughs Holt.

For Holt, a truck driver of 25 years, the bar provides an opportunity to get off the road. Originally from Minnesota, he moved to Iowa approximately seven years ago. 

It was at Barney’s that he met Bente, who grew up in Wadena. She worked in hospital administration in Manchester before coming to work for Barney’s tax business in Wadena. The bar provided an opportunity for “something to do when not busy in the tax office.”

Bente and Holt have lived in Wadena for the last two years. 

“We love Wadena, the people here, and the good atmosphere,” noted Holt.

For Barney’s bar, not much is expected to change, said the new owners.

“We might look at doing some changes down the road, but people like it the way it is,” said Bente.

As Barney reminisced and joked about the bar, he commented that people still come in asking, “Do still have that Barney burger?” he laughed. 

He even recalled one time when an older man from Seattle, who had attended the ‘70s rock festival, came back to Wadena with his granddaughter.

But for Barney, “it’s good timing” to get out the bar business. 

“I think they’ll make it,” the local legend predicted. “I’m sure they will run it right and keep the tradition.” 



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