The Tribble family has been serving food to the Brookneal community for almost 20 years. “My wife owned a small catering business while I farmed,” says Sonny Buck owner Wayne Tribble. Angela Tribble’s catering business, A&E Catering, has also been in the community for almost 20 years. The Tribbles opened up a single location for both Sonny Buck Diner and A&E Catering in 2016.
“Sonny Buck was a nickname for my son, and the name stuck” laughed Tribble. The restaurant is cafeteria-style and features home-style and southern favorites. It is known locally for fried chicken, meatloaf, dirty fries and corn pudding. A&E Catering and Sonny Buck Diner are both run from the same location at 238 Main Street in Brookneal.
The Tribbles have moved their business into a mobile food truck called The Happy Heifer. “We haven’t run out of the restaurant since the sixteenth of March. Since we have a cafeteria-style restaurant it’s difficult to control with safety. You come down the bar, you pick meat, sides, dessert, help yourself to the drink machine and pay at the end,” said Tribble.
As COVID-19 restrictions make this style of dining difficult, the Tribbles decided a mobile truck was the safest option. Tribble said, “It’s still the same food. We’re kind of waiting for things to calm down so people can come back in. It’s just a lot to go through to keep the inside restaurant COVID safe.” In the meantime, the Tribbles are adding new menu items like fried catfish and their version of fried blooming onions.
The catering side of the restaurant, A&E Catering, has also continued to stay open during the pandemic. Tribble said, “We do weddings, events, parties, anything from 10 people to 500. We can make anything you want, not just the food from the restaurant.”
Tribble added, “We’ve been catering to churches that want to have meals together, but everyone can’t come in and sit down. They have the church service in their car, and then we hand out individually packaged meals and drinks.”
With restaurant and food restrictions in place, Tribble noted, “We really try to do everything we can do to keep customers safe with sanitation procedures.”
Sonny Bucks also offers a call in option, where customers can call ahead to the food truck to have their food ready for pickup. “Most of the customers seem to like the option of calling in, “ noted Tribble. The mobile unit travels around to Brookneal, Altavista, Rustburg and other locations, but their daily location and menu can be found through their Facebook page, Sonny Buck Diner.