Tuesday afternoons are becoming more delicious in Fairlawn, thanks to a big maroon bus and some tremendously friendly, hard working people serving food from an unusual place: the back of a bus.
The “Chicken Bus” has been appearing in the parking lot outside the old Food Lion building on Peppers Ferry Boulevard now for three weeks, and according to its owner, Marshall Quackenbos, business for the Chicken Bus is getting better with each visit. Word is spreading quickly, with pleased customers taking shots of their tasty chicken halves and sandwiches and posting them to Facebook to share positive reviews.
“We have had nothing but positive responses from the people here,” Quackenbos said of the newest location in which he is serving his food.
The bus is in its third month of operation since its inception. It travels weekly from nearby Indian Valley, where Quackenbos, a former private school teacher from Georgia and his family own Harmony Hollow Farm raising produce and strawberries. After moving from Georgia, Quackenbos taught at Island Creek Mennonite School in Carroll County.
According to Quackenbos, the venture was born out of desperation after an accident three years ago, in which he suffered a broken back. He was out of work for an extended period of time due to surgeries. A friend of his in Harrisonburg has a similar operation, although his does not involve a bus.
“I went up there (to Harrisonburg) one weekend and helped him out, and just kind of saw what he was doing and I started thinking, ‘You know what? I’ll bet I could do this here,’” said Quackenbos. “Then I found the bus for sale and thought this would work great. It would be unique and would be an eye catcher and would be something that would help meet the family need and give me work that I could do while I was recovering. Thus it was born, and it’s been getting lots of positive feedback so far.”
The bus vends delectable grilled chicken halves with a side of honey buttered sourdough bread and a drink for $8, or pulled barbecue chicken sandwiches with drinks for $7. As business picks up and things progress, he hopes to incorporate additional sides.
His original idea was to have something set up to catch people on their way home from work so they would have something quick to pick up for dinner and then go home to prepare easy sides and put together a healthy meal.
Quackenbos said customers showing up lately are looking for something for “right now,” even though he offers a deal to anyone buying four or more chicken halves for the family.
Speaking of family, Quackenbos has a “right-hand man”—his eldest son Marek, who will soon turn 11. Marek helps his dad out with taking care of customers, taking orders and handling money while dad cooks and serves the food. Along with Marek, the family includes Quackenbos’s wife and four other children ranging in age from two to eight years.
As business continues to improve, the Chicken Bus may make more frequent appearances in the Fairlawn location. Quackenbos is entertaining the idea of adding a Friday stop there or possibly somewhere in Blacksburg, he says, once berry season is over. So keep an eye peeled for the big maroon bus—you can’t miss it—by Truliant right along Route 114 on Tuesdays, 11 a.m. – 5:30 or 6 p.m. You can reach the Chicken Bus by calling 540-577-0370.