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'The college kids are my kids': Fort Valley State inspires couple to make the city their new home

Tony and Tonya Roe visited Fort Valley State University often for homecoming celebrations, but they felt something was missing...

FORT VALLEY, Ga. — One man's love for a Central Georgia university inspired him to start a business that will make its way to the heart of the community. About five years ago, the food truck started as an idea to add variety to the area.

Now, hundreds of people claw their way down State University Drive to grab a bite of Tony and Tonya's Barbecue and More.

Richard Ward works for Reel Turf Solutions at the university. He says he makes it his business to see Tony's every week.

"Typically, every Tuesday and Thursday, we come out here," said Ward. "If time permits during lunch, we come out on Wednesdays as well."

It's about more than food, though. Even before starting his business in 2017, Tony Roe always had a love for the community, especially the students.

"The college... I call all those kids my kids," said Roe.

In a way, they were his inspiration. He would come to town every year to enjoy Fort Valley State University's homecoming, but he knew something was missing.

"I wanted some barbecue and there was nowhere to get any down in Fort Valley. I had to drive all the way to Macon just to get a barbecue sandwich," he said.

Tony and his wife Tonya made the decision to put their money together to start Tony and Tonya's BBQ and More, moving from their hometown of Riviera Beach, Florida, to make a new home in the city of Fort Valley.

Since it's just a mile from the university, students like Chris McLendon who live off-campus find Tony and Tonya's to be the perfect spot to hang out.

"It's not far from the school," said McClendon. "You can come get some food they may not have in the cafeteria and it's good, too!"

Another special ingredient in Tony's success is his late mother's love and legacy that made it all possible. Inell S. Troupe owned the property before giving it to her son. 

"I will never sell this property," said Roe. "I will hustle on this property for as long as God lets me."

Tony and Tonya's BBQ Truck is located at 302 State University Dr. in Fort Valley. They're open Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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