From the late 1950's and all through the '60's and into the '70's, the Barrell was THE place to "be and be seen" if you were a young person with a cool car. The Barrell "anchored" the south end of "the loop" in Sioux Falls at the time. Kids would cruise from the Barrell, north to the Dairy Queen/Queen's Kitchen (a couple blocks north, and still there) to check out the action there, then head north to the downtown area. The cruising downtown consisted of Philllips Avenue north from 14th Street to around 6th, then west to Main Avenue, and south to 14th again. Then, various routes were taken (usually Minnesota Avenue) back to the Barrell at 31st Street and Minnesota Ave. At that point, you might find a parking stall and hang out with your friends for a bit, order some food, ogle a few hot cars, and then start cruising the loop all over again.
In the evenings in the 1960's, there was just about always a neat collection of cars present. Everything from muscle cars, coupes (street rods now), all out race cars, mom and dad's convertible, and all sorts of future classics showed up. The hot cars of the day were "sized up" as they cruised through and the owners soaked up the glances from the admiring crowd. More than a few drag races on nearby I-229 were arranged through an encounter at the Barrell. (I've heard that; I'd have no first-hand knowledge of that, of course!)
Hanging out at the Barrell was an ongoing social event for the folks that were regulars. Most evenings a phone call wasn't needed; you knew who was going to show up and when. The Barrell was the meeting spot where you showed up and then planned the rest of your evening's activities. "Someone" in your crowd was going show up there...you could count on it. Looking back on it, it was a little bit like Facebook...with V8 power!
The food was always good, and they had car-hop service; often it was a girl you knew from school You'd order from a speaker and menu device next to your car, and a few minutes later the car hop would bring your food out to you. "Huskies" were always a snack favorite; they were today's tater tots, but they had the Barrell's signature taste. A Coke Freeze was another favorite; if you weren't quite hungry enough for a burger and all the trimmings, Huskies and a Coke Freeze was a perfect treat!
If you've ever watched the movie American Graffiti, you could liken much of what you saw in the movie to the culture of the Barrell. Stories of great times at the Barrell could go on for pages, but let's just say: It was a great place to hang out, in a much simpler time... I miss it!
And, just so you know: a Burger King sits on this location presently. On nice summer evenings you will commonly find some of the local car club members there enjoying a snack. Inside you'll find some photos of the original Barrell; check it out.