For four decades Jim Glover has owned Pine Cone Restaurant in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. In late 1990, he also bought Pine Cone Travel Plaza.
Located 40 minutes outside of Madison, Wisconsin, the location features a convenience store, CAT Scale, ATM, copy and fax services, and a fresh deli and bakery in addition to the travel plaza.
These days the fresh deli and bakery is really buzzing. “We offer many services, but the bakery has been the largest increase in the last couple years. The bakery in general has doubled in the last five years,” Glover said.
He attributes the growth to customers wanting freshly prepared, quality food. “We make everything from scratch and fresh to order,” he said.
All food offered at the location is made there and is fresh. Glover doesn’t buy anything pre-made. This is a strong selling point for the truckstop and keeps customers coming back. “People really like food that is made in house. I hear this daily. They don't like the pre-made food/bakery,” he said.
They also take the time to offer specialized food. “Customers love that we make their food to order,” Glover said.
Glover told Stop Watch most truck drivers seem to have less time now than in years past. As a result, sales of the truckstop’s grab-and-go items have increased. “The biggest items for grab and go would be cookies and rice crispies,” he said, adding that they make most everything they sell available in a grab-and-go format with yogurt cups, subs, bakery items and pizza being especially popular.
He’s also noticed a big increase in sales of salads and strawberries and other fruits, especially in the summer. “I wouldn't say that they are eating healthier, but there is a noticeable increase in the summer with fruits and salads,” Glover said.
“The biggest difference I hear about our location is that our prices are very low,” he added. He said most the truck drivers are just amazed by the prices and quantity of food they receive.
This focus on food is keeping the truckstop very busy. “We don't have any plans for future change. Right now we are so busy we are just trying to keep everything going,” he said.
/// Read more about Pine Cone Travel Plaza's Sweet Tooth Heaven here.
Photo Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO
This article originally ran in Stop Watch magazine. Stop Watch provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations.
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