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Barbecue Business Keeps On Truckin'; Crystal Calla '07

Marsha Calder photo
Photo courtesy of Crystal Calla '07

Crystal Calla '07 and her husband Aaron have always enjoyed entertaining and serving their guests slow-cooked meats and freshly prepared side dishes. Their guests enjoyed it so much that they told the Callas they should break the bounds of their dining room.

"They told us it was delicious, and they started asking us if we would cater parties," Crystal said. "So one day we said 'maybe we should start making some money off of this.'"

Thus the concept of Fat Boys House of BBQ was born. The couple wasn't ready to invest the time and money it would take to open a fixed-site restaurant, so they decided to operate a food truck instead.

"We thought a food tuck would be a fun way to get our food out there," said Crystal, who earned a bachelor's degree in business administration through Albright's Degree Completion Program and a master of business administration degree from DeSales University.

The first step was to find a suitable set of wheels. Aaron found a used delivery truck that fit the bill, and he and his father transformed it into a self-contained kitchen. They complemented the truck with a custom-made, industrial-sized smoker with ten rotating shelves inside.

Fat Boys House of BBQ opened for business May 7, 2011, serving up a variety of barbecued meats and side dishes from space the couple leases from Lehigh Valley Auto Sales on Union Boulevard in Allentown.

Aaron does all the cooking, he does it all on the truck, and he does it without the benefit of formal training. "He possesses a natural ability and can cook anything," Crystal said. "He's amazing." He's also, she said, "the messiest cook in the world. But I like to clean up, and that's what makes us a great team."

Crystal also enjoys working the window and dealing with the customers."My husband is kind of quiet," she said, "and he likes to be behind the scenes. But I'll chat with anybody. It's so much fun to meet people and get their response to our food."

That response, Crystal said, has been gratifying. "There are times when we have quite a line, but it's all homemade and people are willing to wait for it," she said. Their menu includes pulled pork, brisket and smoked sausage sandwiches, complemented by side dishes such as creamy cole slaw, fresh-cut fries, and macaroni and cheese. "The meat takes 14 to 20 hours to cook, so it's not like you can just slap it together," Crystal said. "We build our sandwiches from scratch, and it's all delicious."

Both Crystal and Aaron hold down full-time jobs—she's an executivecompensation manager for Ralph Lauren and he's an orthotist at Boas Surgical — so for now the food truck is open only during the summer and only on weekends.

The Callas will open the truck for the summer of 2012 on Saturday, May 5, and they're looking forward to their second season serving up succulent sandwiches. "We love it," Crystal said. "We think it's so much fun."

– Bob Shade

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