By Mitchell Atencio
Barnone, a crafter’s market in Agritopia, is the newest venture in Gilbert from Johnston and Co.
The Johnston family, of Johnston and Co., is a staple of the Gilbert community. Joe Johnston founded Agritopia, Joe’s Real BBQ, Joe’s Farm Grill and Liberty Market in old-town Gilbert. Barnone is on Ray Road and Higley Road, on the same property as Joe’s Farm Grill and The Coffee Shop. The crafter’s market boasts 12 businesses, including two restaurants, an on-site microbrewery and on-site brewery specializing in fermentation.
Barnone’s name comes from the metal Quonset in which it is located. The Quonset was built with melted down WWII airplanes and used by the Johnston family in the 1950’s as a barn storing the supplies for the farming family.
“For us, Agritopia was our family farm,” said William Johnston, a business manager and part of the development team at Johnston and Co., and son of Joe Johnston. “To see what it is now and add this newest component to it, we just are super, super blessed to be able to do these kind of things and be involved in this.”
Two of the businesses at Barnone sit outside the Quonset. Garage East will experiment with fermentation, but their main focus will be Arizona wine. The Farm Store is a small shop that is stocked with produce from Agritopia and other local farms. Inside the shop is a shelf full of cook books and gardening books, each donated to Johnston and Co. The checkout is self-serve.
Inside the Quonset are the other 10 shops, including two restaurants, an American-beer microbrewery, flower shop, letter press and design shop, gunsmith shop, a salon, an engineering studio, a collaboration and meeting space/assembly space for engineering creations and a wood design shop.
“One of the things that is really important to us is letting people see how people’s hands can create something really special,” William Johnston said. “For us, every tenant in here uses their hands … They’ve brought that creation to the forefront for people to observe.”
Barnone is first and foremost for the craftsmen in each shop. Every store owner and every manager at Barnone has no plans to expand, hire on many employees or do anything but focus on their craft.
“Our basic purpose for this is to kind of create a space for people who want to stay small and do their thing and not become managers of a process but actually do a process,” Joe Johnston said. “We have a very strong sense of stewardship of our talents and also being a blessing to the community.”
Four of the twelve shops are run by members of the Johnston family, and each family member brings a passion behind the work they are doing. Joe’s son James owns Fire and Brimstone, a brick-oven-based eatery; Joe’s brother Steve owns Johnston Arms, the gunsmith shop; and Mark, Steve’s son, owns Prickly Pear Paper, the letter press and design shop. Of course, the engineering studio, Johnston Machine Co., is owned by Joe himself.
“For us as a family, it’s really important because we’re able to not only have return investment in the project but—it’s more important that we’ve created a space for our family to come together and work together,” William Johnston said.
On opening day, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the community showed up in full force to experience Barnone.
Nancy Nighswonger, a Chandler resident, said she has been looking forward to opening day since Barnone was announced. She said that the focus on Arizona local is the biggest appeal to her.
Jenna Tamburrelli, a Gilbert resident, said the appeal to her is also the local element, but focused on the makers rather than the product.
“It’s all local people and handmade,” Tamburrelli said. “I love that about it.”
Tamburrelli said she will likely frequent Barnone weekly.
“My son goes to school in the neighborhood and we live right down the street, so it’s an easy place to just hop in, have some pizza, grab a beer, do a little shopping and support all the local makers,” Tamburrelli said. “I might even change my hairstylist and start coming here.”
If you’re unsure about how to pronounce Barnone, you aren’t alone. The name of Barnone is intentionally vague, according to Joe Johnston.
“I call it ‘Bar None’ and a lot of our Italian customers call it ‘Bar No Ne’,” Joe Johnston said. “(Barnone) is one of those places that’s hard to define. Therefore, we intentionally want it to be an ambiguous name and ambiguous pronunciation. So I’m glad you call it ‘Barn One’ and I’m glad I call it ‘Bar None.’”