by Dave Boehler
for The Beacon
The slogan “if Fleet Farm doesn’t have it, I don’t need it” might need an update.
Especially after people visit Mr. Tony’s BBQ food truck in the Plymouth store’s parking lot every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If the smell doesn’t attract you to the orange kitchen, the menu will: St. Louis style ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken and a number of other things, including redneck tacos.
Other reasons to visit are the sauces (ghost pepper-based hot, sweet, tangy, special reserve and Alabama White) and its resume (Mr. Tony’s was the third-ranked BBQ food truck in the country in 2015).
“I like to say having two sons that were athletes (at Random Lake) taught me to cook for a hundred,” Tony Roy said.
Roy and his wife Kristin, who live in Fredonia, spent their Wednesdays serving their food in West Bend last year.
They are now in Plymouth because the couple had their eye on this area after a successful run at Vollrath Park in Sheboygan several years ago.
Roy’s parents lived in Sheboygan – he believes his grandfather owned the first auto parts store in the city – and still has extensive family there.
“A lot of people came from the Plymouth area,” Roy said. “We were hopeful to return, it was just a matter of finding the right place and time. When one door closes, another opens kind of thing.”
Doors and such are what Roy spent 20 years working on as a remodeling contractor.
About 15 years ago, Roy was remodeling a kitchen – BBQ was just a hobby back then – when he and his customer got to talking about food.
The person asked Roy to cook for a party of 150 people in Milwaukee, so he loaded up his turkey fryer, little smokers and a couple of Weber grills.
“It just spiraled from there. It took off,” Roy said. “The economy was going south and people stopped taking care of their houses, basically. But people were still eating.”
Because of the feedback Roy received, he bought his first commercial-sized smoker after that party.
In 2010, Roy started selling food at Big Joe’s in Waubeka. A year later, he orders his first custom-built trailer.
“It just got crazy once people saw it,” Roy said. “It was something new for the area; I do believe I’m the oldest barbecue food truck in the state. They are popular in the south, but up here nobody really saw something like that.”
Now, Roy says he has a 30-foot commercial kitchen that just happens to be on wheels.
“We can do absolutely everything on it, and we do do everything on it,” he said. “From prep to serving, it’s the only place we cook out of. We don’t cook ahead of time somewhere else. It’s started in my driveway in the morning, but it’s fresh off the smoker every day of the week.”
Mr. Tony also makes weekly visits to Fredonia on Tuesdays and Grafton on Thursdays.
The customer’s favorite – and Roy’s, too – is the brisket.
He sells around 300 pounds of meat on any given day and has no regrets of giving up his remodeling job.
“I’ve always been a people person, and a feeder,” Roy said.