Nunn’s Cheese Barn, a popular downtown Napa deli in the 1970s and ’80s, is coming back.
Jerry and Judy Nunn are going to revive their family-run operation, which sold cheeses and deli sandwiches from a barn on the 1400 block of Main Street from 1974 to 1988.
This time Nunn’s Cheese Barn will be part of a 10-room inn that they will develop at the southeast corner of Seminary and Clay streets.
The corner house, which dates from 1906, will accommodate five guest rooms. The garage fronting on Clay will be torn down and replaced with a barn-themed deli, with five more guest rooms above.
“We miss the people. We miss the activity. We miss just the warmness of people being around,” Jerry Nunn said Tuesday.
In the ‘70s, the Nunns started the Cheese Barn, where all three of their children worked during their teen years.
A commercial success, Nunn’s Cheese Barn was soon joined by Nunn’s Fish & Produce, then Nunn’s Yellow Brick Road, a restaurant with an oyster bar.
When the family tried to add a fourth business, an inn, they ran into financial trouble, Jerry Nunn said. “We lost it all,” he said.
Over the following years, he sold insurance, then worked as a mortgage broker. Five years ago he and his wife started Mountain Man Survival, a nationwide supplier of disaster preparedness gear.
The name of the new operation, Old Greenwood Inn, will pay tribute to his great-great-great-grandfather, Caleb Greenwood, Nunn said.
Greenwood was a mountain man, trapper and pathfinder who was camping in the Napa Valley in early 1847 when the call went out for volunteers to rescue the Donner Party, Nunn said. Though 80 years old, Greenwood responded, he said.
As a legendary man of the West, Greenwood has towns and libraries named for him across the U.S., Nunn said. Now Napa will have an inn named in his honor.
The corner house at Seminary and Clay has been in the family for 40 years, Nunn said. In 2000, his father, Howard Nunn, got a permit for a nine-room guest house, but the project never materialized, he said.
Jerry and Judy Nunn said they expect to spend more than $2 million to restore the house and build the addition. In January, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission approved the commercial use of the home, saying it would not violate its historical integrity.
The Planning Commission endorsed the project last week. Architect Clifford Simpkins won plaudits for the design of the addition, which will have barn-style doors for the main entrance. It will have board and batten siding, as did the original Cheese Barn on Main Street.
Downtown Napa is far more of a tourist town than it was in the ’70s, which makes the inn an appropriate use, Jerry Nunn said. Food at Nunn’s Cheese Barn will be high quality and good value, with indoor and outdoor seating for perhaps 50, he said.
The Old Greenwood Inn will share the corner of Seminary and Clay with the city’s Community Services building, housing authority offices and an insurance agency. The property borders a city parking lot in back.
Judy Nunn noted that she and her husband are of retirement age. She’s 66, he’s 67. Yet they are starting businesses that will require great amounts of energy and time.
It makes emotional sense, she said. “We really just miss the people.”
The original Nunn’s Cheese Barn was where her children learned about the world of work, Judy Nunn said. Now they will have the opportunity to teach the same lessons to their eight grandchildren, she said.