Two Carroll County natives had always wanted to join the food service industry. Given an opportunity, they weren’t going to let the coronavirus pandemic stop them.
Jeff and Brooke Schnoor, 2019 Carroll Biz Challenge fan favorites with their Drifting Dreamers photo booth, undertook a new business venture, featuring ice cream and snowballs.
Their new business, the Bus Stop, held its grand opening on Friday. Formerly known as the Sundae Shack, the Bus Stop is in Spring Meadows Station in Upperco, neighboring other businesses.
The owners plan to incorporate their photo booth, which the couple operates out of their 1963 Volkswagen van, into the Bus Stop.
“The bus will be a fixture there and once COVID-19 is over and people can get close again, we’ll be putting the photo booth back into the bus and people can have their pictures taken when they come and buy produce from the plant area, ice cream from us or even buy the barbecue from the pit beef stand," said Brooke.
Jeff and Brooke have wanted to start an ice cream stand for quite some time.
“After the Carroll Business Challenge, we were considering turning the bus into some sort of food truck but it just never worked out that way,” said Brooke. “We love food service and customer service in general so we’ve always dabbled in different food ideas and we would love to do a mobile food truck but this just kind of fell into our laps.”
They didn’t anticipate they would be able to open until the summer due to the pandemic. It wasn’t until last week that they knew they would open in April.
The biggest fear they have with starting their business during a pandemic is gaining too much attention that could affect the safety of others.
" I would say the hardest thing is really being safe and still having a small business," said Brooke. “We don’t want cars and a line out the wazoo to make it look like we’re encouraging people to come out. It’s just hard. It’s like we want everyone to be safe and not come out but we also know essential means different things for different people.”
They have been getting a lot of support from the community with excitement for their opening making them believe they will have a pretty busy turnout.
“People are pulling in constantly to Spring Meadow because they just want to get out and they’re out driving around and they see something,” said Brooke. “I think, too, because it’s an open air farm, everyone just is like 'oh, it’s fine to just walk around. So, I personally think we’re going to be very busy.”
They owners plan to add some twists to their menu by partnering with other local businesses. For example, they say they will have a donut sundae to be offered on Sundays, featuring donuts from Bertucco’s Bakery in Hampstead.
Hours have not yet been finalized because the Schnoors don’t know what to expect in terms of daily turnout amid a pandemic. They pledged to keep customers posted trough their Facebook page.
The Bus Stop offers pick-up and delivery and customers will be able to keep their distance by putting in an order beforehand and having it brought to their car.
To keep themselves and their customers safe, the duo spent a lot of time cleaning leading up to the opening.
“We’ve been taking turns going there and just cleaning it and cleaning it and cleaning it,” Jeff said.
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Jeff and Brooke thought this would be a venture they could take on on their own but as the parents of three young girls, they realized they would need a staff.
“So we had not had the conversation about staff at all and then I was very much like, ‘Oh, we can go just Jeff and I,'" said Brooke. "Then we made the announcement ... and the amount of Facebook response we got to people saying they couldn’t wait to see us. We then realized we don’t think we have any staff lined up to work other than Jeff and I, and we have three small children.”
They have protocols in place to keep any new employee safe.
“Everyone’s going to be wearing the face masks and gloves,” said Jeff. “The advantage of the building is we have an order window and we have a receiving window. So, for them, we’ll have someone at one window, someone making and the someone delivering.”
As parents and business owners, they also have to deal with finding childcare while they work during the pandemic due to fears of spreading the virus.
“That is a struggle too, just finding a sitter that we know is not around a lot of people for just us and our families," said Brooke. "So, it’s a full challenge all around for small businesses but you also don’t want to miss the opportunity to be able to be out there.”