“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.
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