Double your pleasure, double your fun

By Posted on Jan 27 2020 | By

Marshall double-decker bus becomes region’s only “bustaurant”
A great way to build an appetite is to climb a set of stairs. It’s also the quickest way to enter into a unique world of dining if it happens to be a 1962 British double-decker bus. And no worries about food sliding off your plate. This bus does not fire up its engine, only the appetites of its lucky diners.

Two Fauquier County entrepreneurs are the “drivers” behind a successful and unique dining experience located in the increasingly foodie village of Marshall. With over a year of experience under their kitchen aprons, Brian Lichorowic and Lorrie Addison will soon launch Saturday evenings of music accompanied by its eclectic menu from the second floor of their “London on wheels” called Johnny Monarch’s.

Lichorowic is a former technology geek who originally hailed from upstate New York. He has six generations of dining history coursing through his veins. Scratch the man’s hands, and the aroma of a well-tended kitchen is likely to fill the air. He’s called Virginia home since 1989.

Addison is a Virginia belle born and raised. She grew up in Woodbridge and raised her children in Stafford County. As life moved on and she and Brian met each other on Match.com eight years ago. A befitting move for a techie in search of the right woman. It was a relationship destined to be centered on quality food.

So, how did the bus come into play? “I always wanted to get into the restaurant business. It was in my blood, and I was always thinking about it,” says Lichorowic. “But I wanted to do something unique other than a brick and mortar business.”

The idea—supported and pushed by Addison—sent the couple off in the search for an iconic double-decker bus. They found one for sale in Krakow Poland and had it shipped stateside, renovated it into a kitchen and dining room, and named the new business Johnny Monarch’s.

“My family hails from Krakow. That’s where my grandfather ran his first restaurant and where his grandfather ran his first restaurant. It was kind of a sign from heaven,” says Lichorowic.

The first level of the bus is home to a well-appointed kitchen, and eight steps leading to the upper level offers seating for up to 20 diners with a view of Main Street. An additional 1,000 square foot kitchen is located in a building behind the bus enabling the restaurant to double team their guests with a wide range of menu items.

One marketing hurdle the couple had to overcome was to shed the perception that the bus was a food truck. It is food served in a large vehicle, but it is not a food truck traveling from site to site.

Menu, wine & entertainment
Soon after selecting their site in Marshall, the couple began growing relationships with many of the town’s businesses. Domestic Aspirations, The Whole Ox, Joe’s Pizza, Field and Main, and many more, “are all friends of ours. We work together and buy products from them for use in the restaurant. We could not have picked a better place to plant ourselves,” says Lichorowic.

The menu ranges from rich comfort foods to vegetarian dishes. One impressive belly buster is the American Pie. It’s made from scratch using a thick layer of ground beef, herbs, spices, and topped with a heaping serving of Mac-N-Cheese, all baked to a toasty brown. Weighing in at 3,100 calories, the dish might be worth sharing with your fellow diner if you’re not up to tucking it away on your own.

For those who don’t want to punch another hole in their belt, a variety of vegan selections are available, including a Veetball Sub. Entries range in price from $12 to $18, but family size portions are available, making for a great family dining out experience.

The couple also offers a diverse catering menu for small and mid-size events.

The ultimate twofer is right next to the bus. It’s another double-decker bus devoted to wine. It’s owned by Randy Phillips, owner, and winemaker at Cave Ridge Winery in Mt. Jackson. The winery specializes in sparkling wines, so the bus is dubbed the “Bubble Decker.”

Phillips told them, “You do the food, and I’ll do the wine,” making for a gastronomic partnership that has worked well for guests of both buses. Glass and bottle sales are available on the second bus but can also be brought to dinner at Johnny Monarch’s.

Starting on January 11, a unique series of entertainment dinners called the Saturday Night Winter Music Series will commence with the appearance of Maddie Mae, a solo vocal act featuring the guitar playing Mae. She will perform acoustically in the dining section of the bus interacting with guests for an intimate, in-home like experience.

“The crowd kind of becomes part of the whole scene. They ask questions of the performer and even become background and rhythm singers. There will be two settings each Saturday; one at 4:30 p.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m.,” said Lichorowic.

For the full story on this unusual and successful marriage of buses, food, and wine visit Johnny Monarch’s at http://johnnymonar.ch/ and the Bubble Decker at https://www.thebubbledecker.com/

Published in December 27, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES