Former steelworker Mark Fairley has launched his own traditional American BBQ business in a bright yellow high school bus.
The Old School BBQ Bus offers an authentic menu of American inspired fast food including a 16hr smoked pulled pork, 6hr smoked Texas style belly ribs, chicken wings, burgers and BBQ chicken cooked in traditional slow smoked Southern BBQ style.
Formerly a supervisor at a steel fabrication company, Mark was an enthusiastic amateur cook for years before working with delivery partner, Business Finance Solutions, to secure a £24,000 Start Up Loan to launch the business. He purchased the bus in February 2016 before kitting it out and starting trading in April 2016. He now works full-time for the business and employs a freelance caterer to assist him on busy weekends.
“I want to bring good quality low and slow BBQ to the people to show just how delicious slow cooked BBQ food is.”
This year Mark hopes to get involved with much larger festivals and to find a permanent location for the bus to develop an outdoor bar with outdoor smoke pits in the Failsworth area. He is considering purchasing an additional bus, or marquee, to provide a seating area with electricity, heating and toilets so customers can enjoy their food on-site.
His biggest challenge initially was prompting people to try his food rather than travelling into Manchester City Centre. His ingredients are of excellent quality and this is reflected in the price. However, after customers taste his food, they are hooked and much of his success comes from word of mouth.
In order to differentiate himself from many of the food vans already operating, Mark decided to try something new and launched the ‘Eccles Burger’; two Eccles cakes, six ounces of steak mince, two slices of home-smoked sticky streaky bacon, a slab of Monterey Jack cheese, and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. This unusual offering sent the BBQ Bus viral and customers flocked to try it.
Beyond this, Mark is in talks with several production companies about producing a food show, and filmed himself on Facebook Live producing meat rubs and cooking different cuts of meat so his followers can learn how to re-produce his food. He would like to turn this into a real cooking show to teach people how to use rubs and marinades, how to cook on a fire bbq and how to smoke meat effectively.