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Armstrong duo taking new business to Dayton Fair

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 12:36 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Tim Mechling stokes the fire while at SummerFest in Ford City recently in preparation for making mountain pies at a food vending trailer he operates with partner Plummer Toy. The duo started the Mountain Pie Kings business this year.

Chasing the American dream is no pie in the sky for two lifelong friends and graduates of Ford City High School.

Since June, Plummer Toy, 51, of Manor and 50-year-old Tim Mechling of Applewold have been quickly becoming kings of their own destiny by firing up a mountain pie business from the back of a 30-foot gooseneck trailer that they haul to summer festivals.

Toy and Mechling run Mountain Pie Kings, cooking up specialty treats with fillings sealed between two pieces of buttered bread and toasted inside long-handled pie-irons over a wood fire. They have savory offerings made with meat and sweet ones with fruit — but it's the broad number of combinations available that prompted a recent customer to say: “If you can dream it up, they can make a mountain pie out of it.”

“My favorite is probably the cheeseburger,” Toy said, as the two friends made adjustments to the trailer along a dirt driveway just off Goat Hill Road in Manor.

Coming up with the idea of cooking mountain pies for crowds was a no-brainer for the friends. They make them all the time while camping with their families. And they wanted to stand out from other food vendors at fairs and festivals.

“That's the one thing no one else has,” Toy said.

The trailer is outfitted with four sinks, three refrigerators, a stainless steel counter, water and a waste-water tank. Those materials, along with a canopy that extends across a metal framework to protect customers from rain, were all gleaned from old recreational vehicles and campers at a Kittanning scrap yard.

A logo of a crown topped with flames was painted on the side by Christy Gross, of Ford City, in exchange for some poured concrete — a trade Toy and Mechling have as their full-time jobs.

“We cut and weld everything and do our own fabrication,” Toy said about building the specialized trailer. “We're working on our own budget – which is nothing,”

Mechling – who sports earrings inside stretched lobes, a Mohawk haircut and arm tattoos – nodded in agreement as his friend with a goatee and salt-and-pepper hair spoke.

“When you're born poor, you learn how to do everything,” Mechling said.

In this case, that means building a trailer to peddle their wares. A metal counter folds down from the side so folks can pull up a chair and dine alfresco. They converted an 8-foot-long and 20-inch diameter pipe into a firebox positioned at the open back section of the trailer, fitted with a lid and vents.

The pair served their first crowd at the Waves of Thunder event in Kittanning in June. They followed that up with a run at Ford City's SummerFest and will be at the Dayton Fair from Monday through Saturday next week.

“Their whole crew has such a down to earth attitude. When you order a mountain pie, you feel like you are sitting around a campfire with a bunch of buddies,” said SummerFest organizer Ben Dinus. “The entire trailer has a great rustic look and a rock-and-roll attitude that puts a smile on your face.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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