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Petro Dodge City takes a driver’s point of view
What do Truckers want? Petro Dodge City in Alabama has the answer. Owner Jim Hays used to be a truck driver himself and drew from his experience to build a location that would not only meet driver needs, but offer something extra.
“I’ve been driving a truck since I was 16 years old and still drive on occasion,” he said. “I can identify with the drivers in there. I know a little about what they go through because I’ve done it for nearly 40 years. We try to cater to them.”
The Dodge City travel center first opened its doors in 2006 and joined forces with Petro in December 2011, continuing its mission of making life on the road a little more enjoyable for drivers.
All of the amenities of a Petro location are available, with an emphasis on comfort and convenience for truckers. A relaxing, truckers-only lounge, complete with a 55-inch television and easy chairs, offers the perfect setting for drivers to kick back. A separate professional driver’s dining room has recently been remodeled with new booths, a dining counter and four flat-screen televisions.
Yes, the small town got its name from the popular television show, Gunsmoke, set in Dodge City, Kan. A man called Doc ran the local convenience store in the northern Alabama town, and since Doc was also the name of a Gunsmoke character the town earned the nickname of Dodge City. Today, Dodge City, Ala., is home to several industrial businesses and a handful of trucking companies.
The Iron Skillet Restaurant is known by locals and truckers alike for its good southern cooking. The fried chicken keeps both drivers and local residents coming back for more.
“We’ve got some folks who eat here three times a week just because of the chicken that’s on our buffet,” says Keith Wade, director of operations. “It’s like going to grandma’s house.”
The store shelves hold some unique jams and jellies, made by a family-owned business in Georgia specifically for Petro Dodge City. Citrus-flavored “Moonshine Jelly” grabs the attention of shoppers and becomes a favorite treat once they taste it. “Toe Jam” may not sound delicious but the tomato, orange and elderberry concoction has a lot of fans, as does “Frog Jam,” which is made of raspberry, orange and fig.
“The jams and jellies give us that southern flair — something you don’t see just anywhere,” Wade says.
Keeping it clean
Cleanliness is a top priority for everyone at Petro Dodge City, and visitors notice the effort.
“We’ve had a lot of comments over the years about our clean showers and restrooms,” Hays says. “The drivers deserve that. They’ve been out on the road working, and they deserve a clean place to recharge.”
A five-bay Petro:Lube service shop will be added this summer, along with 100 more truck parking spaces. A fitness trail and fenced-in pet exercise park are coming in the near future.
“That’s our thing,” Hays says, with pride. “We are a full-service truck facility. We understand trucks, and we cater to the trucker.”