Diners welcome Mr. Tony’s regular visits with barbecue wagon
A vacant lot just west of Highway 57 in the Village of Fredonia is buzzing with hungry customers one day a week, thanks to Tony A. Roy’s BBQ Wagon.
It is a bit of a vagabond existence for Roy, who got into the traveling barbecue business in 2006, but it’s one he finds satisfying.
He does more than his share of catering, too, using a fully equipped mobile kitchen that he used to start his venture.
By adding the barbecue wagon to his culinary fleet, Roy has the ability to bring a dining option to customers rather than waiting for them to walk through a restaurant door.
The wagon has a regular schedule of stops he intends to follow until cold weather makes outdoor dining intolerable.
“We started in April and hope to be able to keep going until the end of October,” Roy said.
In addition to stops in Fredonia (near the corner of Martin Drive and Highland Street) on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the rolling restaurant stops on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Random Lake; on Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. in Sheboygan; and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays in Grafton (in the NAPA Auto Parts parking lot in the Twin Cities Plaza).
“Business has been pretty good. People seem to like their barbecue and the momentum seems to be growing,” Roy said.
On one recent afternoon, customers kept streaming in at the Fredonia site despite a steady drizzle.
“The weather doesn’t seem to make much difference. It was pretty brutal for part of the summer when it was so hot and I had to prepare food in the wagon,” Roy said.
“I can’t explain it, but we seem to do our best business when the weather is threatening or stormy.”
The mobile element of the business means Roy has to set up and take down tables and such at every stop.
A remodeling contractor for 20 years, Roy said he found his calling when he decided to take his barbecue business on the road, initially catering parties, receptions and corporate events.
“I am not culinary trained. I simply have always loved to cook — and in quantity,” Roy says on his website, www.mrtonysbbq.com.
He describes himself as a people person who delights in sharing what he has learned from tending a meat smoker for years.
“This is not about me gathering a bunch of good off-the-shelf bottled, frozen and canned foods and setting them in front of you just to make a buck,” the website notes.
“I love to see the expressions and gestures when customers bite into what is possibly the best pulled pork sandwich they have ever had.”
Roy said the barbecue wagon allows him to reach more customers than a brick-and-mortar restaurant in a single location would permit.
It also addresses a need for more food choices, at least in a place like Fredonia.
“There are not a lot of dining options in Fredonia. In fact, the guys from the Fredonia Family Restaurant stop in every week and order a rack of ribs,” Roy said.
A MOBILE BARBECUE wagon has expanded the dining clientele of Tony Roy, who started a traveling barbecue business six years ago. The business initially specialized in catering receptions and corporate events.
Photos by Mark Jaeger