The History of the Barrett Junction Cafe
The Barrett Junction Cafe & Mercantile is the historical cornerstone in the peaceful unincorporated valley known as Barrett Junction; East of San Diego, California, on state highway 94.
The property was homesteaded 1888 , turned commercial in 1915, got larger in the 1920’s and 30’s with an improved café and motor court , and became the premier, Friday night fish fry house in San Diego County after the 2nd world war (1946). Standing room only! The crowds are smaller today but the World Famous Fish Fry lives on and enjoyed by all that care to dine on deep fried cod.
Highway 94 is the updated version of the stage coach line. The original mercantile is still standing. The small white cottage still exists. A porch was added with a few tables set around to hang out and enjoy your lunch or dinner.
The Saloon was established and added to the building in 1947. The Quonset hut was add to accommodate the larger crowds attending the free dances and fish fry. The field across the street from the cafe was used for rodeos..
An addition to the history of the Fish Fry as told by Tami Cubillas
“The history of the fish fry actually goes like this:
The original fish was caught in the oceans of San Diego or Ensenada, by the owner, Bill Avril, his wife Vi, neighbors and friends, sometime in the early 50s. They had so much fish left over, that on Thursday nights, they started cooking the extra fish outside of the cafe and serving it to friends. After that, even more friends decided to go fishing with Bill. That, is when they all decided to start serving the fish on Friday nights in the cafe for free, (because they had so much fish) until they ran out. That was when the Internal Revenue came out and told them, they couldn’t give the fish away without charging sales tax. Bill and Vi, began charging for the regulated and purchased fish (as they no longer were allowed to sell the fresh fish). At that point, the Health Department got involved and came and told them that they had to have the fish state inspected. That is when Bill and Vi started charging seventy five cents for the fish that they were now required to purchase. And, That is how the fish fry began! This information was told to me by my mother, Catherine Avril Stephens, (“Cathy”) daughter of Bill and Vi.”
Thank you Tami for your contribution to the history of the cafe.
The current owner, Leon Herzog, purchased Barrett Junction Cafe & Mercantile in 2000 and has continued with the Famous Fish Fry and Family Style Breakfast Buffet.
The Mercantile continues to grow as does the Cafe & Bar. When you walk through the building your eyes will be fed with the many amazing antiques, collectibles, deer heads, pictures, and much more.
In the large dining room a larger than life statue of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley will greet you.
The Barrett Junction Cafe & Mercantile recognized by California as the Small Business of the Year of District 40 in 2009. It is an honor to receive this award. Only 78 businesses were selected out of 3.5 million in the state of California. We thank you our customers, without you this would not have been possible.
P.S. You don’t own Barrett, you Live Barrett with its pioneer ways.