Johnson’s Farm restaurant closing

  • After 15 years of serving food, the family-owned Johnson’s Farm Restaurant is set to close by the end of December. Staff photo/Carson McGrath

Staff Writer
Published: 9/7/2018 9:17:24 PM

ORANGE — After 15 years of cooking up everything from pancakes to maple glazed chicken, the family-owned Johnson’s Farm Restaurant is set to close by the end of December.

“We have had a wonderful ride and we have met some incredibly great people,” said Diane Johnson, co-founder of the restaurant.

Johnson and her husband, Steve, started the business as a simple farm stand and selling vegetables to the community. In 2003, the couple built their two-story building, now home to the restaurant, bought some ice cream equipment and started churning out homemade ice cream.

“Everybody said, you build it, they’ll come,” said Diane Johnson.

Eventually the two felt residents wanted something different, and despite knowing nothing about the restaurant business at the time, they decided to take a chance. They sold their ice cream equipment and never looked back.

“Something happened. We made one meal, we started with maybe a breakfast, then it went breakfast to lunch, then breakfast to lunch and dinner very quickly,” said Diane Johnson.

It did not take long for the restaurant to become a staple for the town, she said.

“We have our faithful, wonderful customers that have kept us going,” she said.

Popular recipes throughout the years have included maple syrup made from the family’s sugarhouse, such as maple glazed ribs and salmon.

“People like it so we cook it,” said Steve Johnson.

Maple sugaring has been a tradition for the Johnsons for more than 100 years. The family produces about 500 to 600 gallons of maple syrup each year from their 3,000 taps across the region, said Steve Johnson.

Other dishes include a popular pot roast made from Diane Johnson’s parent’s recipe, pasta dishes, cheeseburgers and even crab cakes.

The hardest part about closing the restaurant, said Diane Johnson, will be losing the tight-knit community that the staff has formed throughout the years.

“The most wonderful part about this whole thing has been our staff ... our staff is like our family. We are all very close, that is the only hard part, all of us are going to be going different ways,” said Diane Johnson.

Amanda Carey of Orange has been working for the restaurant for the past six years. She’s sad about the closing, but happy for the couple.

“Everyone loves it here … I have met so many people from working here — it is really like a nice, big community honestly,” she said. “But I am happy for them that they get to enjoy themselves.”

Steve Johnson said there are no current plans for the restaurant space after it closes, but he plans to continue making maple syrup for the time being. He said the syrup will be available for purchase at Trail Head Outfitters and General Store in downtown Orange once Johnson’s Farm Restaurant closes.

Diane Johnson said the two look forward to spending more time with their family during retirement, including their grandchildren.

The last day the restaurant will be open is Dec. 30.


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