FORT MCCOY, Wis. – On any given morning at 10:30, there is already an aroma of smoked beef and pork as a lunch line forms at Leroy’s Grill in the Post Exchange parking lot on Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
Tonia and Leroy Nofsinger, owners of Leroy’s Grill, opened their food trailer 20 minutes early to serve the service members already in line to order barbecue specialties and cheese curds on Aug. 15, 2019. The couple said they’re honored to serve Fort McCoy and give them another option at lunch time.
“Sometimes we smoke up to 60 pounds of pulled pork, 40 pounds of brisket and over 200 burgers a day,” said Tonia.
Leroy cashed out his retirement to buy the food trailer for his wife after they saw the potential to fill a need while simultaneously doing something they love.
“It is really hard to quit your jobs and go into your own business, but we did it,” added Tonia. “We’ve been here for 10 years now.”
Leroy smokes meat 24 hours a day during the summer when there’s an influx of service members training on Fort McCoy. Tonia has worked in the restaurant industry since she was 14 years old and enjoys sharing her passion with customers.
“I come up with all my own recipes. I use a combination of my grandma’s recipes, my mom’s and mine,” said Tonia. “I come up with fun names, which really hits it off like the ‘Hog Daddy’ which is the most popular thing on our menu.”
Leroy’s Grill is open from April to November. They close for the winter once the trailer pipes freeze.
“In the wintertime when our trailers are not here and there’s a big snowbank, people will send us pictures. Customers start calling us in February to find out when we’re going to come back,” said Tonia. “We have a lot of regular customers, they keep in touch with us online, on Facebook and email.”
Tonia, a native of Mauston, Wisconsin, said she’s seen several food trailers come and go over the past 10 years. She comes from a military family and is honored to be able to serve the Fort McCoy employees, military retirees and service members who eat at Leroy’s Grill.
“Units have given us certificates of appreciation and say we made their stay at Fort McCoy a really good stay because we we’re here, and that really makes you feel” good.”
Tonia said they don’t do any advertising for Leroy’s Grill, the food and service speak for themselves.
Sgt. Brandon Dickey, with the 1st Calvary Division stationed on Fort Hood, Texas, said Soldiers in his unit eat at Leroy’s Grill every day, so he decided to try it for himself.
“Options are always good, especially when you don’t have options,” said Dickey. “So it’s nice to be able to choose your own food when you can.”
This is Dickey’s first visit to Fort McCoy. He had a night training mission and missed breakfast, and said having places like Leroy’s Grill on the installation are something to look forward to.
According to Dickey, having a real meal as an option can make a real difference in morale.
“The Army’s the Army, right? Being able to get good food is always a bonus and always lift your spirits a little bit when you get some good food instead of MREs (meals ready to eat),” said Dickey.
“It makes us feel great that we can give them a good meal and meet their needs,” said Tonia.