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A Local Focus and Commitment to Customers Drives Success at Big Boy’s

Posted in: Truckstop Travels

Big Boy’s Truck Stop-Customers in RestaurantJI.jpg

At Big Boy’s Truck Stop in Kenly, North Carolina, the personal touches and amazing people make everyone feel welcome. Owners Wendi and Walter Powell are always out from behind the counter, engaging with customers and inspiring their staff. 

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The Powells’ hands-on approach ensures they know who their customers are. Wendi is keenly aware that driver demographics are starting to change, and she is adapting her food offerings to keep customers coming in. The Powells have a vision and they are making plans to help them accomplish it.

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Big Boy’s is doing so many neat things with food. The Powells have a sit-down restaurant, Lowell’s Mill, a buffet and a sandwich bistro, Wrapideli. One of the interesting things they are doing is locally sourcing the freshest food products. When I was there, I had an amazing pork dish that was served with delicious braised carrots—both came from the area. Their burritos are made with locally sourced beef and tomatoes. It is clear that Wendi is working to take care of the local demographics using locally sourced products.

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During my visit, I talked with several customers who stopped just for Wrapideli. They know the food is fresh—there are even homemade chips—and that they can get it quick. 

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The deli case is full of fresh meats and cheeses, including homemade cream cheese. 

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They offer build-your-own pizzas and quick-serve chicken. 

There are some things you only see in the south, and Big Boy’s has those, too. Customers can grab a cup of boiled peanuts—either Cajun or regular—to go. 

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The bakery is full of delicious and unique treats. There is baklava, pastries, cakes and cookies. 

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The Powells have embraced the digital world, but still keep traditional, personal touches. 

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The Powells are faith-based people, and their values come out in their business. They take care of their customers and their employees, and it is the people within Big Boy’s that add to the location’s success. 

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/// Did you know most weeks you can find me visiting a NATSO member truckstop location, spending three to four days, using my merchandising and operations expertise to help them grow their business? 


 Photos Credit: Darren Schulte

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.