The independent Petro franchise location Clearwater Travel Plaza, which is located in Clearwater, Minnesota, is owned by Joel Nelson. This summer Wendy Johnson, vice president of operations for Clearwater Travel Plaza, gave me a tour of this one-of-a-kind truckstop.
Clearwater Travel Plaza has so many food offerings. For those that want to sit down and stay, the location has a full-service sit-down restaurant and a pub. For those looking for food to go, it has a lot of different offerings including a bakery, gourmet sandwich bar, coolers of take- and-bake food and a Bread Shed. You can get anything from the menu in the meals to go. You can order online to your business.
The bakery is Instagram-famous for its supersized donuts. “I’ll bet our bakery is the No. 1 photographed thing inside in the state,” Johnson said. The bread shed is full of the location’s famous fritter bread. They sell thousands of loaves fritter bread a week and frequently feature special flavors. “It helps business when you have your own bakery,” she added.
Clearwater Travel Plaza does a lot of marketing to grow the business. “We do a lot to market to local people,” Johnson said, adding that the company invests in commercials on cable, VIP coupons and newspaper ads.
Clearwater’s management is busy marketing online, too, with a very robust website at https://www.clearwatertravelplaza.com. For social media, the location uses a company to regularly post to Facebook, Google, Twitter and Instagram. The company also monitors comments and reviews on social media and responds and is working on an app so people can order online while inside the location.
Clearwater Travel Plaza has a Holiday branded gas station, Minnesota Reflections gift shop and a separate fuel center for professional drivers. The separate fuel center has a drivers’ lounge, cooking station, showers and driver supplies. Management is currently working on some renovations, and the next project is expanding the kitchen in the fuel center. “Businesses have to adjust. We need all the amenities we can get out there for the drivers,” Johnson explained.
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