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When drivers walk into the Petro in Clearwater, Minn., an irresistible force eventually draws them to one particular spot. The sweet, sweet aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries coming from the Nelson Bros. Bakery leads customers straight to the glass display case, where they carefully decide which tempting treat to try first.
The bakery is known for its huge variety of artisan breads.
“Most places don’t have that, and people travel the extra mile just to come and get it,” says 25-year Clearwater Petro veteran and baker Lon Warwick. “I start at 4 a.m., and we bake everything fresh every day.”
Fresh food is the Clearwater Petro’s calling card. Both drivers and locals stop by regularly, specifically for the food. And while the homemade dishes and treats from the bakery, restaurant and food court are enough to keep drivers satisfied, the people who serve it add to the charm.
“We have our regulars here and always have our group of coffee drinkers hanging out,” says Shelley Wrobel, food court employee. “The drivers love it. Everyone is just so nice here, and we make sure that drivers feel welcome.”
“Our Chicken Patch and Garden Patch are really popular. It’s a variety of our vegetables sautéed and then put on our homemade marble rye bread, smothered with chicken and ranch dressing,” says Wendy Johnson, vice president of the Clearwater Petro.
Quick and quality
For the driver in a hurry, the food court sits right by the fuel desk and offers delicious, handcrafted meals. The homemade pizza and gourmet deli sandwiches are made-to-order. True, that means that there’s a short wait for the fresher food, but customers are happy to grab a coffee or cappuccino while the food is prepared.
Party on the patio
Lots of special events take place throughout the year on the restaurant’s outdoor patio. In July, the Petro throws a big customer and employee appreciation party they call the Patio Party. Some years, more than 1,000 people show up to the event that includes free burgers, potato salad, drinks and other tasty goods. The big day features the employee recognition awards as well as prizes and games for customers.
Where: I-94 & Highway 24
Phone: (320) 558-2261
Fax: (320) 558-6505
Truck parking spaces: 150
Restaurant: Nelson Bros. Bakery, Pub and Restaurant