Wow. Where do I even begin. This all seemed so simple back in the "total and complete lack of planning" stages. We are the Sorensen family from Manson, Washington. A little Norman Rockwell community nestled quietly on the sunny banks of beautiful Lake Chelan. My parents are Roger & Linda Sorensen, and my name is Kari Sorensen. I'm the youngest of 2 girls. My sister, Kim, (who is WAY older than me by 18 months) is married & living the "American Dream" (she would disagree!) 1.5 hours North with husband & 3 daughters. I'm under the impression that she reads magazines while languishing on the sofa, eating bon-bons & watching TV all day. (Far from the truth--but we joke about it! Her life is nuts too! Cows, pigs, chickens, horses, dogs & kids with soccer in 3 different directions! Ahhhhhhhhh!)
Let me bottom line it for you. We're a small, family owned & operated, working 10+ acre pick berry farm & country restaurant that specializes in down-home, scratch country cookin'...stuff Gramma would be proud to serve "for Sunday supper with the folks". Now, hear me on this: If you only came to relax on the deck, enjoy the gorgeous, serene berry fields that the Barn overlooks and then hung out to have the best down home scratch country cookin' you've had in years-- that would be just great. Fine 'n dandy. Our job would be "done". BUT...you would have left without discovering the BEST part of what we are here at Blueberry Hills. Let me explain.
We are built on the original family homestead from the early 1900's that was originally settled by my Great-Great Grandparents. I, Kari, am 5th generation from right HERE. How COOL is THAT?! And all the "stuff" (aka "Junk", if ya' ask Gramma) hangin' from the ceiling & in the displays here at Blueberry Hills all came out of Grampa's Shed. Now, folks, what you must realize up-front...Grampa never threw anythin' out. Neither did his Dad...or HIS Dad. (5 generations, remember?) PACK-RATS!
Back in the early 1900's this land was originally planted with apples and continued in apples until the fall of 1999. Now, If you know anythin' 'bout farmin' (regardless of the crop anymore, now'a days) it's tough to make a livin' farmin' apples anymore. It seems everyone gets a share except for the farmer. Dad decided to try sompthin' different. Boy-howdy, did he think "different". He pulled out the trees (it broke Grampa's heart to watch it -- I remember the day. It was AWFUL. Farmin' this land was Grampa's whole life & legacy and it was really all he knew.) Dad went on to plant 13,000 blueberry plants and everyone thought "those Sorensen's are crazy", (the jury's still out on that one, by the way) as the viability of Blueberries had never even been considered in the valley before. (It's a common belief that blueberries love "boggy, wet soil" and as everyone knows, the Lake Chelan Valley is known to be "high dessert" climate. Hum. Not very compatible, one would think. But guess what? Dad planted those bushes the Spring of 2000 and they're growing and producing like GANGBUSTERS. And they're loving the climate! With the hot days and cool nights that make apples so high in sugar content -- IT'S HAVING THE SAME EFFECT ON OUR BERRIES! You can definitely taste the difference in our berries. Proof? We use less than 1/4 cup of sugar in our homemade Blueberry Pies! You know the saying that the "proof is in the pudding"? Here at Blueberry Hills, folks, the "proof is in the pie!" (Sorry. Had to be said.)
Truth be known, I was a little freaked when Dad said "blueberries", because frankly (and I shouldn't even admit this) I didn't even like blueberries. To me, my experience was that "blueberry" tasted like a mushy mildew flavor. I could never understand why people were so crazy about "blueberry" in jelly beans, yogurt, etc. I hated it! And I had come up with a menu around these things?! Rats! (kick dirt). Well -- guess what? I had NEVER tasted blueberries that taste like OURS. (I actually got away with not tryin' ours for nearly 2 years...then I did.) They are FIRM, (we harvest at the peak of ripeness...not green because we're planning on shipping them across the United States) SWEET (hot days/cold nights of the Lake Chelan Valley) and FULL OF ROUND, WONDERFUL FLAVORS (we don't over water or grow 'em in a "bog") that pop when you bite 'em! I'm not kidding! (I NEVER joke about food - that's serious stuff.) I am still floored. I actually LOVE blueberries now -- I had just never had any like ours. And it's not just ME that notices...everyone that tries them has noticed the difference in our berries! It's all about the climate! Hot days and cool nights - it makes for an optimum sugar content of the berries...just like it does on the apples. Right ON. Dad was right!
If you build it
We broke ground on our "Barn" in March of 2002, when the berries were 2 years old. We anticipated opening in July of 2002, but July came and went, as did August... September... October... (yawn) ... November. Wow. Dead of winter and now we're ready. ARE we ready? We were terrified. People kept stopping by while we were still building and asking us "What the heck are ya?" or the occasional "Whatcha doin' way out here? Ya been hit in the head?" We really had no answer to any of them. We planned on being a "Fruit Stand" and selling a few pies & soup 3 months out of the year when the berries were being u-picked -- and we'd have our "normal" (what's normal?) lives the rest of the year. But by the dead of November...we had spent everything we had. And, unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to make any money in the summer. Now what do we do?
I got on our local radio station's morning call in show "KOZI's 2nd Cup of Coffee Program and talked for about 20 seconds -- horrified. I sounded like a deer stuck in the headlights. The following morning we went to the Barn and put out our shingle. And waited. People actually showed UP! It was so cool. We had talked of maybe putting a phone outside the front door and if someone wanted to come in they could call us and we'd go over. We had no idea the support we would receive from "the locals" as well as the local resorts that were filled with off-season vacationers. We were so relieved - and grateful!
Ignorance is bliss
It was actually a blessing that we started out slowly in the off-season. We didn't know ANYTHING about the restaurant business (and arguably still don't)! We just really loved to EAT and I have always had a PASSION for cooking. You should have seen it. It was kind of like "Who's On First"... Where do we put the glasses? WHAT? Wha da ya mean - no glasses?! Who's makin' the coffee? I'M not makin' the coffee! Where do the dishes go? DISHES? WHAT dishes? We got dishes?! Who DOES the dishes?! How do we git' 'em to the kitchen? Should we cut a hole in this wall?! Deposits?! What deposits?! Who does the books?! Books?! WHAT books?! Unclogging the toilet - WHAT?! Gross!! Go get Dad!! It was insane! We had absolutely NO idea what we were getting ourselves into -- it just all came together (well sort'a).
Sidebar but while on the subject of toilets - Ladies, LADIES! PLEEEEZSE!
AS A RULE: IF IT'S BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD, IT ABSOLUTELY WILL AND SHOULD NOT BE FLUSHED!
The physics on this are a constant and WILL NEVER CHANGE!
This advice should be filed under: "Things I Shouldn't Do If There Isn't A Man Around To Fix It".
We started with a VERY limited menu (meant simply to torture, mind you)...for breakfast we only had Danish Yeast Waffles (with or without our pie filling on top with whipped cream) and my top secret BLINTZ recipe - that I get lots of requests for. It's truly fabulous! (Oh - and I'm modest - did I mention that?) For lunch we only served AWESOME burgers with hand cut fries, and wonderful scratch soups. Mom baked pies (and baked, and baked and baked pies) and somehow...quietly (except for the plungin' & thrashin' around comin' from the women's room!) we made it through the winter. Today we still serve all of our original menu items, but we've expanded to include other items as well. You can take a look at a sample MENU. (Note: It changes. So don't hold me to it.) (We reserve the right to change pricing and menu items at any time because, frankly, this is a small town and we gotta' create our own excitement. Honey, we'd go to a dog fight if we got wind'a it ahead a time.)
Yep. We're different ;)
Now, mind-ya we're not 'cher runna' the mill kind' a place either. Now-no sir. If there's any work at all we can git out of -- believe YOU me, honey -- we'll do it. When ya come on in, we have ya grab yerself a menu hangin' on the post. (If there's a big crowd ya jest use yer elbows a little.) We have ya help yerselves to somethin' to drink -- free refills -- (we actually call 'em the "Wet-cher Whistles"). We figure you can only drink so much and then we charge ya 'bout $50 bucks to use the indoor plumbin'. Jest kiddin'. And now don't forget yer silverware there on the workbench. Now go-on. We have ya find somewhere to sit...inside, upstairs or out'n-the deck. Jest make yerselves at home. When you figure out what 'cher havin'...drag yerselves on back inside -- and bring yer menu - we try'da hang on to 'em - we ain't made 'a money. We have ya order 'n pay up front. So - if ya wanna bring a paper 'n sit on the deck & wet'cher whistle all day -- it's right good. We figure that's that many less times we have'ta clean the table. And scoot over'n quit hoggin' the whole table. We're friendly in these parts.
We're just a down-home, folksy, like gramma's house kinda place to go. Come on out 'n see us. Sit-a spell, as Gramma says.
Git'cher grub on, Folks!
Anyway - enjoy the rest of the site! Drop me a line. I LOVE to get your thoughts & comments on the website & hear about your experiences at the Blueberry Barn! Thanks, Folks!