Minder Binder's 'Big Red Barn' reopens as 'The Mission'

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The once-iconic "Big Red Barn" in Tempe, known as Minder Binder's for more than 30 years, has been brought back to life by a Valley family.

The renovated landmark is now called the Mission at Minder Binder, and it's open for business!

Located on McClintock Drive and University in Tempe, The Mission at Minder Binder will offer customers fresh, in-house ground burgers, specialty hand-stretched sourdough pizzas (using an 1880s sourdough starter), and decades of memories.

Once referred to as the iconic "Big Red Barn," the restaurant has been completely refurbished, remodeled and restored with a new kitchen, additional bar, patio and large courtyard. Instead of a "barn" look, the outside now looks more like a stucco-covered mission-style building.

"A lot of people think we tore the barn down," says owner Kristen Bell. "In fact, we restored it, inside and out."

Originally opened in 1972 as Minder Binder's Bar and Grill, the "Big Red Barn" became a Tempe landmark and favorite watering hole for multiple generations. In 2000, the business was sold to a new owner, and closed in 2005. The building was abandoned for seven years. In 2012, the building was repurchased, and that's when extensive renovations began.

Bell says she and her family were on a "mission" to save the iconic spot, hence the new name - The Mission at Minder Binder.

"We had toured more than half a dozen properties and we felt this one was right up our alley," says Bell. "Renovating and restoring the building was a two-year project. It was really important to us throughout the process that we preserved the barn, and the memories that went along with this building."

The ceilings and walls of the 7,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant are covered with eclectic decor and props, most of which are from the original barn. Dozens of original movie props and memorabilia hang from the ceiling of the restaurant's large party room, located on the second floor, including the genuine over-sized Zeus prop, featured in the famous chariot race of the 1959 Ben-Hur film. The iconic Minder Binder barrel-wagon that once sat on the property has been donated to the Tempe History Museum, by the Bell family.

From the beginning, The Mission at Minder Binder has been a family affair, with Bell's father, Dale, serving as the visionary for the venture and Bell's younger brother, Spencer, overseeing construction. Spencer and Dale own the San Tan Flat Grill & Saloon in Queen Creek, a popular eatery well known for its outdoor campfires, outstanding American food and live music five days a week.

The Bell family says that The Mission at Minder Binder represents a more urban, eclectic version of San Tan Flat.

Bell herself, is no stranger to the restaurant business, as she opened a successful pizzeria in 2011 in Spearfish, S.D., called The Dough Trader Pizza Company. She's integrated The Dough Trader's same trademark pizza dough, using their very own sourdough starter, into The Mission at Minder Binder's kitchen and menu. The kitchen currently holds six Blodgett large pizza deck ovens, representing some of the largest pizza ovens in town.

Visit theminderbinder.com for more information.