Bravo Farms Spans the Valley with Fresh Foods
Home GrownJuly 2015
By Fache Desrochers
In the last several years, the local dining scene has undergone some significant changes. Although the Valley has always enjoyed a favored stable of restaurants, a new brigade of eatery entrepreneurs has been bursting into bloom, having taken root in the code of food and drink ethics that is the new norm. Locally sourced products, refurbished buildings, artisan fare and a dash of unpretentious fun are the driving values behind the Valley’s new restaurant culture. But one area restaurant has been serving up all these values even before it was cool: the deliciously quirky Bravo Farms.
Jonathan Van Ryn is both a member of the family who has owned and operated Bravo Farms since its first location in Traver, and an active member of this craft-oriented nouveau wave. Although he is proud to carry the torch of Bravo Farms’ legacy, this young man has brought his own outlook to the Visalia branch of the family business. Located in the historic Wagon Wheel Steakhouse building, Visalia’s Bravo Farms is at once an homage to everything the brand has come to stand for, and a step toward elevating the city’s dining discourse. “I suppose this place is a bit more my style,” says Van Ryn, glancing around the welcoming, curated space. From the lovingly repurposed wood surfaces to the wall art featuring elegantly modern renditions of the choicest meat cuts, this restaurant resonates with a balanced fusion of rustic and streamlined.
But a commitment to appealing design is only one reason to love Bravo Farms, a name that customers have come to associate with homegrown quality served up with a side of efficiency and a tall drink of playfulness.
“The cool thing is that we’re able to do the fast-casual, fresh lunch,” Van Ryn says, referring to the Visalia restaurant’s midday offering of custom salads wraps, and sandwiches. “But I think Visalia really wants and needs a steakhouse,” Van Ryn says. “We’ve always done barbecue and beef at Bravo Farms, but with this new location, we wanted to serve the best of the best.” To that end, all steaks at the Visalia restaurant are USDA prime cuts and can be paired with elegant, family-style sides meant to celebrate the palate of the individual.
Even if you’ve never been to the Visalia restaurant, you are certain to know Bravo Farms from the flagship location in tiny Traver, just 20 minutes north of Visalia on Highway 99. Frankly, you can’t miss it. What began as a restaurant and gift shop selling the family’s cheese from its own dairy evolved over time into something much more whimsical. Today, to get to the barbecue, artisan cheese and local beers, one must safari through a family-friendly roadside wonderland featuring a multi-story treehouse, petting zoo, play area and outdoor antique mall. The space is rustic and fun, with a rollicking, Wild West vibe that wouldn’t feel out of place in a theme park. “Oh, Traver has always been my dad’s project, and he’s got a passion for vintage things,” says Van Ryn, with a glance toward the covered outdoor patio wallpapered entirely with antique signs. “This Visalia restaurant is a little more my aesthetic, but we do have this back room that pays homage to our original location.”
Building on the success of Traver and its truck-stop-turned-play-place location, Bravo Farms went on to open the Tulare restaurant location in 2009, and the Visalia eatery in 2012. Last year saw a bit of an explosive return to form with the sprawling new Kettleman City location. “Oh, Kettleman City is Traver times 10,” assures Van Ryn. Featuring the same formula of restaurant and gift shop tucked into a kid-friendly play zone, Bravo Farms now has two locations where they can provide road-tripping families with the break they need.
From roadside fun to food to gift shops filled with local treats of all kinds, Bravo Farms exhibits the kind of farm-fresh ethics that enable them to expand, one niche innovation at a time. And they aren’t done yet. “I’d really like to look more into growing our own produce for the restaurant,” says Van Ryn. “I don’t know as much about this aspect, but I’d really love to have our own greenhouses within five years. I’m just waiting for the opportunity.”
Whether you are pulling over for a roadside break, planning your next romantic dinner out or looking for a quick, fresh lunch, the Bravo Farms family has you covered. And while each location has its own distinct offerings, they all function with one goal in mind: to source and serve the very best of the Valley. From farm to table, from their family to yours.
Bravo Farms • (559) 738-9190 • www.bravofarms.com
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400 N Willis St., Visalia • (559) 738-9190
33341 Bernard Dr., Kettleman City • (559) 386-9622
36005 Hwy 99, Traver • (559) 897-5762
1691 Retherford St., Tulare • (559) 684-1600