The Bar’n and The Green Room offer a new experience after Barcode closes

Adam Griffiths

There’s never been a rodeo in downtown Kent.

That all changes tonight.

The Bar’n, a new country bar located in the old Barcode building, opens its doors at 9 p.m. tonight. No cover for 21 and over. Five dollars cover for women and $8 for men. The entrance has been moved from South Depeyster Street to Erie Street to attract a larger crowd.

But as another new option into the Kent nightlife takes root, the story of the 12,000 square feet that’s been the home of at least four operations in the past ten years turns the page to start another chapter.

Out with the old …

The building at 200 S. Depeyster has had a lot of faces. Until late last month, it was the home of Barcode night club, a chic, New York City-esque dance club with lounge attitude and low-lights for effect.

Mike Beder, owner of the former Barcode night club, said he thought people would take to the dance concept when he opened in Aug. 2006.

“That’s not where it’s at right now,” Beder said. “We were looking to do a dance club. It didn’t take the way we wanted it to.”

Because of Barcode’s size, Beder could bring in larger acts such as Paul Oakenfold and Mushroom Head.

But “at the end of the day, I didn’t want to be a House of Blues,” he said.

Beder also owns the Water Street Tavern and decided to focus all of his attention building up what has already been established.

“It made a little more sense for me both financially and with my time to keep developing (Water Street Tavern) a little more instead of building something at Barcode from the ground up,” he said.

And in with the new …

Enter Kent grad Lincoln Baringer. He thinks country music is on fire right now, and he’s bringing it to the community. He’s a self-proclaimed trend-follower who owned the Robin Hood from 2001 to 2003, and he came back to Kent with a business plan to transform a historically unlucky venue.

“Music always goes back to country when there’s not a new mainstream trend,” Baringer said. “They’re playing country on 98.1 and 96.5. It’s crazy.”

Baringer took over 200 S. Depeyster on Aug. 31, kept Barcode open two more nights, shut it down and began renovations.

His vision? The Bar’n and The Green Room – a country-theme bar with a rock side.

The Bar’n has come to life in the space formerly known as Barcode. Baringer has added 550 square feet to the dance floor to accommodate line dancing two nights a week.

“Country lovers need a lot of room,” he said.

Influenced by Tequila Ranch in Cleveland and the chain of Whiskey Ranches, The Bar’n is rusty red inside and out. What once was tables and booths is now a padded pen that will include a mechanical bull. Above the glass block bar hangs weathered and stained siding from a more than 100-year-old barn. Cornhole boards, dartboards and pool tables add to the western flavor.

But the building is not only home to what may be the first competitor for Rootstown’s Dusty Armadillo.

General manager and marketing manager James Burge is Baringer’s right-hand man – a real “rocker by heart,” who worked as Baringer’s promoter at the Robin Hood.

“He was a huge motivation to come back,” Baringer said. “I knew that if I could get him back on my team, magic would happen.”

The Green Room has been the result of Burge’s rock roots. Situated in what Barcode used as a storage room and, from what Baringer can tell, “hasn’t been used for business before,” The Green Room is a rock venue with an eco-friendly flair.

In addition to housing comedy acts Wednesday nights and offering live performances Friday and Saturday, all of the cans and bottles collected in The Green Room are being recycled. The proceeds will be donated to a local charity, part of Baringer and Burge’s commitment to bettering the Kent community.

“Lincoln and I have been showing people a good time for a long time,” Burge said. “We want to leave our mark in Kent, and not a heavy tread, but more of a ‘Hey, we did something different.'”

But will it work?

“There’s never been two bars in this one building before,” Burge said. “You have two reasons to come.”

Baringer believes the success of an entertainment venue lies in “the way you treat the guest.”

And the biggest selling point?

“There’s always been a cover for 21 and up,” Baringer said. “There will not be a cover for 21 and up unless it’s a big show. That’s huge. I want them to come in. We’re open Wednesday to Saturday, doors at seven. We’re going to have TVs all around, playing the games that are on during our operating hours and streaming country music videos.”

Even Beder has faith in Baringer’s vision.

“His plans for the place are probably the best possible for that space,” Beder said. “Country bars are thriving right now, and I think he’s going to do well there.”

Public affairs reporter Kristen Russo also contributed to this story.

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter at [email protected].