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Pine Cone Travel Plaza's Sweet Tooth Heaven

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail, Operations, Truckstop Travels

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NATSO’s President & CEO Lisa Mullings and I had the fortunate tasty treat opportunity to visit Pine Cone Travel Plaza earlier this year to learn about their operations and NATSO needs.

Located just outside Madison, Wisconsin, it is a sweet tooth heaven. It is owner Jim Glover’s pastry factory and something that Willie Wonka would be proud of, even if he did prefer chocolates. Ever eat a pastry the size of the largest land animal’s hearing aid — otherwise known as an Elephant Ear? Well, if you have an artery or two to spare, you must enjoy this scrumptious concoction at Glover’s location.

You can almost say it is bakery with a travel plaza, fuel pumps and a restaurant. That designation doesn’t take anything away from any of those profit centers, as the restaurant and travel plaza both are strong operations in their own right. However, the bakery, now that is something special.

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Like all good independent operators, simple blocking and tackling done well make the location truly magnificent. They have a clean curb appeal, welcoming team members with smiles, clean restrooms and overall clean internal operations.

They also take the time to discover what their customers want rather than just assuming. Staff are expected to listen to what customers want, especially the loyal and supportive local community, every day.

By looking at the restaurant, we can really see the care they take in listening to customers. As we all are aware, independent sit-down restaurants across the country are struggling to fill the seats they offer.  However, the restaurant at Pine Cone Travel Plaza routinely struggles to seat everyone who wants a seat.

Can you imagine having waiting lines for your restaurant? They always are full according to Glover during peak hours and even non-peak hours. The bakery only fuels this desire to eat at Pine Cone Travel Plaza, as often folks eat the deserts first then order a meal.

A bakery and restaurant serving made-from-scratch creations that make every minion from Despicable Me proud!

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Photos Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO

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/// Read more Truckstop Travels here.  

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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.