Renovation and history merge at the Carl’s Corner Petro
The new Petro in Texas has some real star quality. The Carl’s Corner location was previously co-owned by singer Willie Nelson and it has a distinctive history. When Petro came in, the intent was to magnify the specialness of the place, while bringing everything up a notch. A $1.5 million makeover did the trick, with improvements throughout.
“There’s an “it factor” at Carl’s Corner,” says Ingrid Hamid, restaurant field manager. “Everyone is super excited about the new place and can see the positive changes that have been made.”
Seven new tiled showers have been added, complete with oversized showerheads, comfy towels, good water pressure and plenty of hot water. The restrooms have been redone as well.
The 2,600-foot travel store was refreshed to make shopping fast and convenient for drivers. And a 16-seat drivers lounge was added, complete with La-Z-Boy® chairs. All new landscaping was added to the exterior.
Word has spread quickly, and having a Petro in such a convenient location has made an impact. More drivers can use it as an authorized fuel station.
“There are a lot of drivers coming in, the place is definitely never empty,” says Jeff Promes, lead fuel desk cashier, who has been working at the I-35 location for four years.
When you visit the new Petro site, you might meet the mayor of Carl’s Corner, Carl Cornelius. He actually founded the small town near Hillsboro, Texas, and previously co-owned the truckstop with Nelson.
He still regularly visits the Petro for a morning coffee or just to say hello to the old place. He’s happy to reminisce about the location’s history and may even tell you the story of the time that the Prince of Monaco stopped in.
Cornelius actually built the community of Carl’s Corner around the truckstop in the 1970s. The stop was named Willie’s Place, and it welcomed such famous guests as Merle Haggard, Mickey Gilley, Charley Pride, Billy Bob Thornton and of course, Nelson himself.
That’s right, dancing frogs. A whimsical sculpture stands just across the street from the Petro. These graceful amphibians are legendary in the area. Originally the tangoing pair sat atop a dance club. Cornelius bought the frogs after a zoning ordinance in Dallas led the club to take them down.
Now the display is a popular tourist attraction, but even the folks who see them every day are amused. “The frogs are strange, but everyone loves them,” says Promes. “We just like to have them around.”
While the Carl’s Corner Petro has made some major renovations, keep an eye on the place. There is still more to come. Drivers can look forward to additional dining options in the near future. Plans are in the works for many more positive extensions to the location.
A big welcome
The one thing that remains constant is the wonderful Texas welcome that everyone gets when they walk in the door.
“It’s just a great place to be, we’ve already had a lot of compliments,” says Sheryl Henry, store general manager. “It’s beautiful and the customer service is the best. We believe in going overboard to make people feel welcome.”
Where: I-35 East, Exit 374, North Side
Phone: (254) 714-3000
Fax: (254) 714-3002
Truck parking spaces: 119
Restaurant: Iron Skillet