Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes might be the gift of choice at Jeff and Brooke Schnorr’s home during the next holiday season.
That’s the sweet snack the Manchester couple decided to garnish their milkshakes with during an offseason event in December at their ice cream shop called The Bus Stop. The milkshakes were a new thing at the Schnorrs’ new venture, which they started just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic, and ordinary they were not.
A confection that is made for a Food Network show about over-the-top desserts, The Bus Stop offers what Jeff and Brooke Schnorr call “extreme” milkshakes ― an ice cream-filled mason jar, with The Bus Stop logo emblazoned on the side, topped with whatever comes to mind to heighten a customer’s senses.
The rim of the jar is coated with candy, and the dessert is crafted with care. Sweet sauce and whipped cream come next before the Schnorrs add decadent toppings such as candy bars, or Little Debbie snack cakes ― the treat they credit with sparking the most interest in The Bus Stop.
“I think the milkshakes pushed it over the edge,” Brooke Schnorr said earlier this week, with husband Jeff and their 2-year-old daughter Vivy inhabiting the add-on building at Spring Meadow Farms along Md. 30 just beyond the Carroll border.
The Schnorrs took over what used to be called The Sundae Shack last March and opened The Bus Stop in April of 2020. The pandemic took a toll on businesses everywhere, but the couple tried to use it as an opportunity to flourish with a carry-out service.
“I remember our first weekend, scooping ice cream and looking out [the window] and the line was back to the pond,” Brooke Schnorr said. “I’m thinking, ‘What in the world is happening right now?’ It’s been great ever since.”
They’re about to expand ― the Schnorrs plan to open an express window in Manchester’s popular Dutch Corner Restaurant, officially bringing their dynamic desserts into Carroll County within the next few weeks.
Brooke Schnorr promoted pop-up events on social media, using platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to let people know business hours and menu items. The summer ended, but people kept coming to The Bus Stop to see if its desserts lived up to the hype.
Apparently they did.
“We open at 11 [a.m.],” said Jeff Schnorr, laying out a typical day. “I’m here probably at 9 or so, getting ready. And people start pulling up around 10:15, 10:30. And then by 10:40 there’s a line. It blows my mind.
“We’re beyond grateful. At this time a year ago, it was just a completely different world for us.”
People have come from as far away as Virginia, the Schnorrs said, to stand in lines and wait for up to 90 minutes to try an “extreme” milkshake, or another treat off the menu. It’s always changing, and sometimes it’s a creation made on the fly by Jeff, Brooke, or even one of their staff members.
Whatever it takes to keep The Bus Stop customers coming back.
“No one knew how to play COVID. We opened in April and we were supposed to close on Halloween,” Brooke Schnorr said. “And then we decided, everybody here was like, ‘It’s going so great because there’s limited options with COVID [so] let’s just keep going.’ So then October went to November. And then November was so-so because the weather was a little rough.
The Bus Stop’s normal season is set to start in a few weeks. the Schnorrs said. The Dutch Corner spot is coming together too, and Brooke Schnorr said they’re eyeing an April opening there as well. Plus, The Bus Stop will have flexibility to take over the restaurant when it’s not open, she said.
The Bus Stop was open on St. Patrick’s Day, partnered with Manchester Valley High School for a fundraising event, that had people waiting for milkshakes and jumping into the Schnorrs’ roving photo booth ― their Drifting Dreamers business earned fan favorite honors in the 2019 Carroll Biz Challenge.
The photo booth comes in the form of a 1968 Volkswagen bus, which is also where the Schnorrs came up with their ice cream shop’s new name.
The couple said they have plans for new creations that will pop up in the future, and when the Dutch Corner endeavor gets underway Jeff Schnorr said their menu will feature regular food items as well.
Their goal of bringing a mainstream food industry idea to their small-town community is what makes The Bus Stop so popular and successful, Jeff Schnorr said.
“We’ve always wanted this, so it’s not a surprise,” Brooke Schnorr said. “But I tell everyone, it never gets unsurprising when I pull up and we’re on a 90-minute wait. Even though I’m expecting it and I know it’s coming, I pull up and ... this still is shocking. We feel like we’re only just getting started now.”