Buc-ee’s, Leeds, Alabama: You will not Believe this Place

“If you vote for Pedro, all your wildest dreams will come true.” Napoleon Dynamite.

The same may be said of Buc-ee’s. I had passed a Buc-ee’s on my way to a great dinner at Rusty’s, and made it a point to stop there on the way to my motel. Buc-ee’s completely redefines the very idea of a gas station. They do so by taking all conceivable function of a gas station and elevating them to unimagined heights. Buc-ee’s inspires awe. Let me explain why.

Why do we need gas stations? First, for bathrooms. Buc-ee’s is famous for its bathrooms. They are welcoming.

And they very big and very nice, with lots of stylish tile, and lots of facilities.

I think there were 52 of those. And people are constantly cleaning the bathrooms. It’s like on a cruise ship where, if you wake up and go to the head, when you come back your bed is made and there’s a chocolate on your pillow. Someone is always cleaning. I recently drove by a Burger King in Pennsylvania that was offering a $1,500 sign-up bonus for new employees, but Buccee’s manages to get platoons of workers to clean bathrooms. I suppose it’s easier when they never really get dirty.

The second essential purpose of gas stations is pumping gas, which is why people are doing in the background.

That’s about half of the pumps at the Buc-ee’s in Leeds. There are 120 in all. I foolishly had filled up before I realized there was a Buc-ee’s in Leeds, but it’s apparent that their gas prices have to be great.

They also have food at Buccee’s, with a kitchen preparing fresh meals 24 hours a day. Here’s a photo from roughly the center of the store, which covers 54,000 square feet.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the food, as I’d just eaten too much at Rusty’s and had a rib or two in the car. But they had people making fresh sandwiches and acres of hot tables. And they sell all the other things you might need, like ice.

How much does a bag of ice cost around you? In my neighborhood, it runs around $2.50 for a bag — I think for seven pounds. People also stop by gas stations for beer and wine. I noted a great choice of national and craft beers — about 30 feet of craft beers — and I picked up a couple of bottles of Meiomi pinot noir there for $16 a bottle (vs. around $20-24 here in DC). I wish I’d bought a case. I guess I should point out that Meiomi is “company wine” here at Stately Tanner Manor. The house brand is Something On Sale.

Going to Buc-ee’s reminds me of Boris Yeltsin’s 1989 visit to a Randall’s grocery in Clear Lake, Texas. He was struck goggle-eyed with wonder at the riches and variety before him. “Even the Politburo doesn’t have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev.” The Berlin Wall was doomed.

Everyone at Buc-ee’s is friendly and helpful. Everything is clean, everything works. Buc-ee’s offers a combination of Walmart prices and Ritz-Carlton service. They started in Texas, and they’re gradually expanding. The amazing thing is that they seem to get better and better as they expand.

A Bucc-ee’s is under construction off I-95 in Florence, South Carolina, but for now the nearest Buc-ee’s to DC is in Georgia, where there are two, one in Fort Valley and one in Adairsville. And there’s one down near Mobile, another in Daytona Beach, and a bunch in Texas, mainly near Houston and the Fort Worth-Dallas area. If you travel anywhere near one of those places, you should take a detour and check out a Buc-ee’s. All your wildest dreams will come true.

***

And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box.  Or bookmark us and check in from time to time.  If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the destination city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, often close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event). And stick around for news, all manner of recipes, and the occasional book or movie review and fine arts and architecture commentary.  Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome.  And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.

10 thoughts on “Buc-ee’s, Leeds, Alabama: You will not Believe this Place

  1. I went my first Buc-ee’s this summer outside of Austin, Texas. Pretty crazy. In a town known for world-class brisket, their brisket (smoked in-house) is not bad.

    Like

  2. My absolute favorite grocery store. The “HEB” is going big(er). Apparently, most of their new Flagship stores are going to feature BBQ restaurants. If you ever need recommendations for Texas. Please let me know. Also, you may be interested in this from Texas monthly (always a little controversial) : https://www.texasmonthly.com/interactive/top-50-bbq-2021/

    I should have mentioned earlier that your blog helped me tremendously this summer-Kind of a “Tanner blog summer.” My 15yo son and I went on a 4,000 mile road trip to Texas and ate mostly BBQ and Hamburgers—with MANY of our stops recommended by you. Including stops in Richmond (Buzz and Ned’s/ZZQ), Ayden (Skylight Inn) Bum’s was closed. Additionally, we spent a few days in Atlantic beach (found a great Old school place in a not crowed part of the beach) and had Shrimp burgers! at big Oak. Also, Jack’s in Nashville. It was quite a journey. So, many thanks to you and your work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great trip! I’m glad the blog was helpful. That’s a great way to spend time with your son. And what was the place on Atlantic Beach? I think we’ll be back down there this summer.
      I have the Texas Monthly issue. I’m surprised and, to be honest, skeptical of the dramatic changes. I admit to a prejudice in favor of Old School places. I do need to get to Texas, and I’ll send up a flare before I go.

      Like

  3. Here’s the place (and a few notes)
    To be clear: it’s not swanky; its a throwback to the 60’s—and it’s right next to Big Oak. But, its small, clean and run by a family that lives on the property. The beach is ~100 yards away-down a foot path. There’s a full kitchen in the room. Prices are reasonable. I plan on returning.
    Best,
    Allan

    William and Garland hotel
    1185 Salter Path Road
    Atlantic Beach, NC
    28522
    252-247-3433
    BRING A PILLOW!!
    Wi-Fi spotty
    Maybe 2-4/100w lightbulbs?
    Need Silverware
    Need beach chairs and umbrella

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s