The changing landscape of truck stop food offerings

The changing landscape of truck stop food offerings

Dear Larry

With construction of the 4th Regular Bloomington Truck Stop coming soon, let’s take a look at how the restaurants or food offerings at truck stops have changed over the years.

Many of us still remember the era when three truck stops were open 24 hours a day in Bangladesh, each with a restaurant serving convenience foods around the clock. Brandtville and 5 Star were about a mile away on Route 66/Beltline, now Veterans Parkway. Skelly’s Big Rig Truck Stop was on Route 51 in North Normal.

Brandtville was home to the famous Bob Johnson’s Restaurant, later Bob Knapp’s Restaurant, which some say made roast chicken famous and was especially popular as a late-night restaurant.

However, the convenience food restaurants at most truck stops have now disappeared, replaced by some type of fast food.

Larry Karius

David Propper, The Pantagraph

The QuikTrip Travel Center will soon be under construction at the corner of Bloomington Road and Route 9 West, across from Blain’s Farm & Fleet, and will feature QT takeout kitchens and a convenience store.

Love’s in north Normal opened a year ago with Bojangles, a North Carolina-based restaurant chain, as its restaurant. The store also has sandwiches and salads.


North Carolina-based restaurant Bojangles, which serves Southern-style chicken and biscuits, shares building space with Love’s Travel Stop off Main Street in North Normal.

Dan McNeil, Pantagraph

Love’s in LeRoy has a convenience store and an Arby’s.

The Pilot Travel Center on West Market Street is undergoing a $6 million renovation that includes a larger convenience store with expanded food offerings and new restrooms and showers. The Wendy’s restaurant is scheduled to be completely remodeled upon completion on the truckers’ side and will continue to serve as the truck stop’s main restaurant.

Karius: 50 years ago this month, mainstream businesses started serving alcohol

Casey’s Truck Stop in Lexington has an expanded pizza kitchen.

The Dixie Travel Plaza in McLean is the oldest truck stop on Route 66, and some in the U.S. say the restaurant opens at 6 a.m. and is one of the few restaurants that still offers a traditional buffet for truckers.

The TA Travel Center, located on Truckers Lane off West Market Street, has a Country Pride restaurant that opens at 7 a.m.

From Larry’s notebook

Foals – The freshly painted exterior gives the restaurant a “more modern look,” says owner Juan Carlos Vega. The new menu contains 30 additional items. He purchased, remodeled and opened the former Delgado’s Hotel in 2005.

Sailboats — The day after Bobby Knight died, I reposted the post on Bloomington Normal Restaurant Scene from May 2013, when he unexpectedly visited Schooners for a late lunch.

Bonchon (Korean fried chicken) – The owners of the Park Regency Hotel and Conference Center are bringing a world-class Korean fried chicken franchise to the hotel to replace the Central Park Bar & Grill. Serving double-fried Korean chicken, Bonchon will be a sit-down restaurant with a full bar serving Korean cocktails and specialty drinks.

Gracie Fonda – The Mexican restaurant on West Wood Street across from Miller Park recently closed. It has only been open for four months.

Dang boba, poke and banh mi — A quick-service Vietnamese restaurant has opened in the former Arby’s on East Empire Street. The menu highlight is banh mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich. The husband/wife owners own a successful restaurant in Peoria of the same name.

Pizza Hunt Brothers — According to its website, Hunt Brothers Pizza is the premier pizza provider in the convenience store industry. A warehouse/area office serving 220 stores in parts of four states is located in South Bloomington.

Pickled Radish Processing Company (Eureka) — The husband/wife owners of the former Chanticleer restaurant converted the dining room/bar into “turn of the century chic” and reopened it as a steak and seafood restaurant.

• Larry’s favorite menu item — Texas Twinkies at Annie’s Eats, available as a once-a-week special and probably my favorite menu item in BN.

Co-owner Michael Mayo talks about opening Wendy Puff Pizzeria in Eureka

Clay Jackson

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Karius, of Bloomington, is a former food program and audit plan supervisor for the McLean County Health Department. His Facebook blog, Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene, has 39,000 followers.

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