Hidden inside a school bus on the intersection of Webb Avenue and Davis Street, Mr. & Mrs. Smith Grill is a full service restaurant dedicated to serving sandwiches and comfort food for reasonable prices to the Burlington community. 

It is the only restaurant of its kind in Alamance County, according to owner Norman Smith, and the only option Smith seriously considered for his budding business after he first discovered the bus.

“I looked around and looked around, and there was nothing really to accommodate what I wanted,” Smith said. “I have everything in there — a prep room and everything — so that’s what I wanted. So when I saw a school bus, I’m like, ‘OK, that’s what I need,’” Smith said. 

Prior to that space, Smith sold food in a convenience store in North Park.

Inside of the bus is spacious — at 40 feet long, it’s actually larger than the space he initially had in the convenience store. While the bus was an investment, it was the cheaper option overall. 

Owner Crystal Smith works inside the bus to prepare an order. Philly cheese steaks and grilled chicken sandwiches are two of the more popular menu offerings. Photo by K McKay, Contributor.

Keeping the restaurant open and running is a serious commitment for Smith. Every morning he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to make it to his job at a local dry cleaners as a machine operator. When he gets off, he meets his wife, Micaela, at the bus. The restaurant is open generally 9 a.m-8 p.m. 

But weekend nights they’ll stay open until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. if business is steady. After spending time with his 14-year-old daughter and settling in for the night, Smith will rest shortly before waking up to do it all over again. 

For the amount of time, effort and money that has gone into the truck, the food is surprisingly inexpensive. 

“We had a customer yesterday that got a Philly steak and cheese tater tots, and I told them how much it was and his wife was like, ‘Is that all,?” Smith said. 

Some of the more popular menu items, such as the Philly cheese steak and the grilled chicken sandwich, cost less than $5. Each item on the breakfast menu is under $5 as well. There is nothing on the menu more than $10, even the combination menu items. The prices are so low, it almost seems like fast food. 

But the similarities between the grill and fast food restaurants stop there. 

“I’m about 60 years old, so, you know, I’m kind of old fashioned as far as cooking,” Smith said. “And people like flavor.” 

The steak in the Philly cheese steak is peppery and well-cooked with the perfect proportions of cheese, onions and pepper complementing the meat in the sandwich. The grilled chicken sandwich — a lighter option — places chicken, tomato and lettuce in between two slices of white bread with mayo and a special sauce on either side of the sandwich. 

Even the crinkle cut fries are well seasoned with a secret Cajun seasoning recipe. While ketchup and fries always go to together, the fries honestly might taste best plain. 

Smith’s other goal in creating his menu was to expose the community to new foods. 

“It’s hard to find some of the items we sell. It’s hard to find them anywhere, so we wanted to cater to people for stuff they couldn’t get anywhere else, for a reasonable price,” he said. 

Pork chop steak, chuck wagon, jambalaya and fried bologna are all items that can be found on the menu, alongside hot sandwiches, burgers, chicken and an assortment of fried side dishes. 

Smith’s favorite dish is a peach cobbler he occasionally makes as a daily special. But customers looking for cobbler are encouraged to check their Facebook page to see if it’s offered that day before making the trip over. 

Eventually, Smith hopes to own his own storefront restaurant, but until then, is happy attracting any customers with the school bus venue.

“It’s a lot of people that come by and take pictures. They can’t believe, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s a school bus.’” Smith said. “People are kind of excited and it draws attention because people are like, ‘What is that? What’s that school bus there for?’”