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He Caters Meals With Barbecue Bus
Curtis Melcher came to Kansas from what he claims is the "best barbecue county in Texas" over two decades ago, but the tradition of his roots have stuck to his ribs, so to speak: He specializes in catered barbecues at community gatherings and private events throughout north central Kansas, using an old modified school bus to do the job.
Melcher converted a 1975 66-passenger school bus into a wood-fired "barbecue bus" complete with an easy-to-stoke outside firebox (mounted at the back of the bus) and full-size barbecue cooker inside the bus, as well as a kitchen including refrigerator, freezer, range, stove, counters, and dishwashing sinks at the front.
"People are amazed whenver they see it for the first time," says Melcher, who has used his "barbecue bus" since 1987 to cater meals to more than 20 groups totaling about 3,500 people, ranging from just a few to several hundred at a time. "It really works great. The barbecue cooker is big enough that I can barbecue enough meat for 400 people and with two additional cookers 1,000 people at a time. Sometimes I start barbecuing at home so that when I get to the location the meat is completely cooked."
Melcher removed all seats from the bus as well as the rear door. He cut an opening in the side of the bus and remounted the door, adding portable steps. He used an old 300-gal. bulk milk storage tank to make the cooker and a hospital sterilizer for the wood-fired firebox. A chute transfers heat from the firebox to the cooker. Shelves above the firebox can be used for baking potatoes or for keeping cooked meat warm while more is being prepared. An exhaust fan pulls smoke out of the bus.
A divider wall separates the barbecue cooking area from the kitchen. Propane is used to heat the water and power the stove while electricity, supplied by a generator or electrical outlet, is used to operate the lights, refrigerator, freezer, and exhaust fan.
Melcher converted an old washing machine and a pair of old rinse tubs into a potato scrubber by lining the sides of the washing machine, as well as the top of the agitator, with indoor-outdoor carpet. "It lets me scrub 30 potatoes in three minutes," notes Melcher, who also made a large stainless steel "tea tank" complete with six convenient spigots. He also bringsalong a large bean kettle.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Curtis Melcher, Route 1,
Herkimer, Kan. 66433 (ph 913 744-3257).
(Excerpted from report by bank J. Buchman in Grass & Grain)

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #1