TA Lexington delivers more than drivers expect

By on January 4, 2013
Extra-Special

Drivers who pull in to TA Lexington for the first time get quite a surprise at the diesel island. A fuel attendant hops out to fill the tank, check the oil and clean the windshield.

“The reactions can be pretty funny,” says general manager Corey Berkstresser. “Drivers aren’t used to seeing that these days, so they’ll come up and ask what that fellow is doing. We tell them that they can pump their own fuel if they like, but this fuel attendant will be happy to take care of it while they step inside and grab a cup of coffee.”

Making each moment of a driver’s visit just a little bit more pleasant is the hallmark of this popular location. It’s been operating for just over 50 years, with Berkstresser’s father, Bobby, taking it over in 1981. It was very small then, and since it sits about a half a mile off of the Interstate, the goal was to create a place that drivers would make an extra effort to visit.

Now it’s known for the stick-to-your-ribs home-style Southern cooking at the restaurant, Berky’s. It has a barbershop, a chapel and a huge chrome shop. About half of the employees have been on the job for more than 15 years. Though it has grown enormously over the years, TA Lexington still retains the atmosphere of a small family business. The personal touch is present in just about every inch of the place — sometimes literally.

“We haven’t hired a lot of contractors,” Corey says. “We started out with parking for 25 trucks on a gravel lot, and now we have 28 acres of paved parking. We bought a paver and my dad, my brother, Kevin, and I paved that lot ourselves. Twenty years ago we put in the sidewalk. I can show you my initials on it. Building this place was a labor of love.”

Meals with wheels

Berky’s Restaurant includes the main dining hall, the Pedal Car Diner and the Tin Toy Café. It’s obvious where the last two got their names. An incredible collection of toy pedal cars from the 1950s and 1960s hang from ceiling of the Pedal Car Diner. The Tin Toy Café has so many rarities that they advertise it as an antique toy museum, and some people stop by just to look at the vast collection. Bobby Berkstresser started this collection about 20 years ago, and now it’s well-known enough that people with tin toys to sell or donate come to Berky’s themselves.

Get fixed

The seven-bay truck service center is fully equipped with the tools and parts to handle repairs as well as maintenance. “We do engine rebuilds. We do transmission rebuilds. We have a front end alignment machine. There is literally nothing we can’t do in our shop,” says Kevin Berkstresser, truck service center general manager.

New look

Since joining the TA network, the location has remodeled its nine showers and is adding bulk DEF to the fuel island.

Gathering spot

Each year the Virginia Trucking Association holds the state’s truck driving championship at TA Lexington. Recently Large Car magazine held its truck show onsite, and in 2010 the location hosted the prestigious SuperRigs show. All 12 truck photos in that year’s calendar were taken in the area.

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