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By on November 8, 2011
RoadKing Mag

If bigger is better, then the Albert Lea TA is definitely top of the line. The 31-acre complex includes a 22,000-square-foot shop, 29,000-square-foot main building and parking for 305 trucks.

But there’s more to the place than wide open spaces, especially after recent renovations to the store. The old phone room and arcade came down and the space now houses a 22-door cooler section. A new coffee bar features multiple flavors, blends and grinds. The two-sided area allows for thermoses to be filled, and has other road-ready amenities.

A renovated cold-beverage bar area has room for even more products, and a new hot-food bar island offers three kinds of soups, a variety of out-of-case merchandise and traditional roller-grill fare.

Two new, three-tiered, reach-in refrigerated cases are filled with a customer favorite, Nick’s Meats. They’re a local meat market, and have won national championships for their meats. “They are a premium product, and so we’re pleased to offer a variety of their items including bacon, brats, jerky and summer sausage,” says owner Rocky Trail.

The store overhaul was a $400,000 project, but it’s money well spent as far as Trail is concerned.

“The whole area is all beautiful, granite-type counters and first-class cabinetry,” Trail says. “The ceiling area now has wood beams and all-LED lighting.

“We also redid everything from the flooring to the plumbing so that the new look carried all the way through.”

To your health

A few years ago, Albert Lea, Minn., was chosen to be an AARP/Blue Zone Vitality Project city, which focused on communities where residents were living the longest and worked to support that longevity.

“Our restaurant made changes that made it easy to eat healthier, like adding fresh fruit and side salad as choices to all meals,” Trail says. “Positive results of these efforts have been featured in national media, including Nightline, Good Morning America and Newsweek. We get a lot of driver and local traffic along with four-wheelers and these side options are appreciated by all of them.”

Let us entertain you

The full-on movie theater boasts reclining seats, surround sound and a 60-inch viewing screen.

National recognition

Last year, USA Today named the travel center “One of the Top Ten Truck Stops to Motor Into.”

Next steps

A new, four-bay shop opened in 2005, so there might be one or two more bays added. Bathrooms and showers in the trucker’s area are also on the slate for remodeling in the near future.

And, look for bulk DEF to be added at the pump in the next year.

Comments welcome

Trail prides himself on being available to customers. “Drivers pop into our offices because we’re right at the beginning of the hall that leads back to the drivers’ amenities. And they are more than willing to share their thoughts, good or bad,” says Trail. “We’re blessed that the vast majority of them are compliments about our people and our site. Our people do a wonderful job of taking care of our customers and the facility.”

Good people

“We’re a bunch of extroverts, and we pride ourselves on our character and integrity,” says Trail. “That’s really the foundation of what makes our team so successful.”

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  1. James D Rhinehart

    December 9, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Great to see such great changes for us truckers and the host of great things that are available for us when we are able to stop at Albert Lea. I myself love to eat healthy and I heard they have a great variety of foods that are truly healthy. And the personal I heard are just awsome. Very friendly and outgoing and will help you to find whatever you need if you don’t see it on the shelves or in the store areas. Just so happy to see that there are those that really appreciate us that do for others, and to let you guys know we appreciate you for being there. I drive Regional so I do hope I get the chance to stop there and check you place out. Again great article, and you’ve made my day.

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