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Former steelworker launches American BBQ venture with five-figure startup loan
Posted by Richard Bell on 09 Jan 2017
A former steelworker is hoping to bring an authentic flavour of America’s Deep South to the North West with a five-figure loan from Business Finance Solutions (BFS).
Mark Fairley, from Failsworth, has used the £24k to purchase and refit a traditional yellow high school bus that is now selling US-inspired fast food across Greater Manchester and the wider North.
His new business, the The Old School BBQ Bus, is offering guests access to a menu that includes 16-hour smoked pulled pork and six-hour smoked Texas-style belly ribs, as well as burgers, chicken wings and BBQ chicken cooked using the traditional, slow-smoked Southern BBQ style.
Mark plans to bring The Old School BBQ Bus to large festivals in 2017, with a view to securing a permanent location for the bus in the Failsworth area, where he will develop an outdoor bar with smoke pits.
Having worked as a supervisor for a steel fabrication firm, Mark was an amateur cook for years before turning to BFS for the funding and support needed to launch his own American BBQ venture.
After flying across the Atlantic and importing the bus from Texas, Mark used the Start Up Loan cash to install a smoker, oven, fridge and an awning and counter for serving customers.
Business Finance Solutions forms part of the Manchester Growth Company and is the North West delivery partner of the £310m government Start Up Loans programme.
BFS loan officer Alex Mearns said: “Mark is a brilliant example of the kind of entrepreneur for whom Start Up Loans have made such a huge difference and we’ve been so proud to work with him throughout his journey.
“From finding and bringing the bus home to developing his range of unique deep South BBQ recipes, Mark has created a thriving business, which he plans to expand and grow across the region and nationally.“
Commenting on the support, Mark said: “Working with BFS made the process of securing and investing the funds I needed to build The Old School BBQ incredibly straightforward. They understood immediately the concept I wanted to develop and have been really supportive throughout.
“I want to bring good quality low and slow BBQ to the people to show just how delicious slow cooked BBQ food is. There is a real move to embrace slow cooked food and meats at the moment – from pulled pork to ribs – so the time is perfect to launch our authentic BBQ brand in the UK.“
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead member for business support, Sir Richard Leese, commented: “It is so important that entrepreneurs like Mark are able to access flexible packages of finance combined with the right kind of advice from people who really understand the startup journey.
“Thanks to the support he has already received, The Old School BBQ is rapidly establishing itself as an authentic and much appreciated food businesses.“