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Reinventing the Meal: Mobile Bar

Reinventing the Meal: Mobile Bar

Jeni Ruisch

When Lehne Runyon gets an idea, she holds it close, nurtures it like a seedling, and plants it, obsessing over it until it has taken root. The latest shoot she has lovingly coaxed from the ground is in the form of a little camper with a big job.

Runyon and her husband Dallas operate Short and Stout Bar, a complete mobile service for events, but there’s one catch: You BYOB. Due to liquor regulations in Ohio, there’s no such thing as a mobile liquor license. (Booze on wheels, typically doesn’t go over well, yeah?)

Photos by Collins Laatsch

Still, Short and Stout is on a roll. With six events under their bar belts starting in September of last year, and 10 already slated for 2018, S&S is turning into the little bar that could, and is. Runyon has long been a fan of bloody mary bars, and she’s spent years setting them up for brunches and parties. Her new affinity for setting the vibe served as the inspiration for the mobile bar. She started searching for VW buses to take her show on the road, but then realized a camper would have more room, and within a few weeks, she found Penelope, the original short and stout. (Now, Greta, a 1964 Atwood Camper, leads the fleet.)

Runyon and her husband both have artistic as well as culinary backgrounds. Their flare for styling is apparent in their streamlined and on-trend look. And their years of collective experience in service shines through in the practicality of their setup and amenities. All of the juices are hand-squeezed for fresh, handcrafted cocktails. They bring glassware, straws, napkins, garnishes, and perhaps most importantly—ice. Imagine the load off the bride-to-be or party planner’s mind if they didn’t have to worry about the bar details. Just buy your beer, wine, and liquor and bring it to the site. They’ll bring everything else–including the kitchen sink. Along with the invaluable touch of personal, personable service.


“We also aren’t just bartending at a table, we have experience being behind the bar from many years in the service industry. It’s all about the vibes,” Runyon says.

Beyond tending to your thirsty guests, Short and Stout has a growing collection of decor available for rent, including vintage chairs, a macrame backdrop, and a growing collection of glassware.

This all goes perfectly with the little-something-extra the couple employ to make things even easier for party people and the affianced: a simple photo booth for your guests to make memories. It’s a halo light ring, iPad with Simple Booth software and a stand. The client can set up a custom backdrop, booth, or dedicated photo op area, and just rent the equipment along with their bar. Guests can digitally share their photos, or rent a printer if they want to create a party favor station.

The perceived snag of not being able to legally sell liquor ends up being but a blip on the Runyon’s business radar. They help you plan your custom drink menu, and cater it to your guest count, using their experience to tell you how much to order. They set up, clean up, and can provide additional bartenders for big events, and power supply for convenience when outlets are at a premium, or you wanna take your bash out to the country. They bring all the essentials to keep the bar running smoothly for all your refreshment needs, even for kids and teetotalers. Sure, it’d be nice if the laws changed and they got a slice of the alcoholic pie, but the genius in the couples’ setup is that, to make a lasting impression, and take some of the work out of planning, you provide the bottles of booze, and they provide you with so much more.

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