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With temperatures at a balmy 75 degrees or so and desert all around, the El Paso Petro doesn’t exactly fit the traditional image of a holiday haven. But when the time comes, there’s that seven-foot tall inflatable penguin in a Santa suit at the entryway, standing by a fully decorated Christmas tree. Immediately, any driver rolling through at that most wonderful time of the year knows that they are stepping into a place filled with holiday spirit.
It’s more than the decorations. “We look for ways to help those in need, and our customers are wonderful in joining in,” says Restaurant Manager Adam Rascon. In past years, the employees have chipped in to get Christmas gifts for a needy family headed up by a grandmother, only to see that their home was in need of major repairs. In off-hours, a group devoted themselves to cleaning up the grounds, getting a supply of groceries and fixing the crumbling roof.
When a charity drive is going on, customers can be sure that if they run into server Yolanda Sifuentes, she will get them right into the spirit of giving. She has raised thousands of dollars, one dollar at a time, for a good cause like the St. Christopher’s Truckers Fund drive.
“We don’t just ask for a donation,” Rascon say. “We try to be as informative as possible.”
The generous nature and big hearts of the El Paso Petro staff extend to each and every customer throughout the year.
“El Paso is a large city, but it really has a small-town feel,” says Fuel Desk Manager Thela Guiterrez. “The atmosphere here is very friendly.”
This is the site of the very first Petro Truck Stop, opened in 1975. “As the flagship location we have bragging rights,” says Gutierrez. “It’s important to us to maintain that high standard that started the company.”
Juarez, Mexico, is just five miles away and many drivers take the opportunity to visit another country when they are in the area. All parts of the El Paso Petro have a little flavor of Mexico, whether in the souvenir section of the travel store or on the menu of the restaurant. On Thursdays, there’s a Mexican buffet, with authentic classics like tacos, enchiladas and tamales.
Kitchen manager Luis Avelar has been at the Iron Skillet since 1979, and he’s always looking for ways to keep drivers coming back for more. He knows that barbecue is a big favorite, but that there are plenty of drivers looking for healthier options too. “We have a lot of recipes, some from 10 years ago that we submitted to be included on the Iron Skillet menu,” he says proudly. “If a driver likes something, it stays.”
Holidays at El Paso
The penguin Santa is just the biggest holiday decoration. Employees in every area deck the halls with plenty of seasonal finery. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, drivers can get a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, or an authentic Mexican dish.
What You’ll Find
El Paso Petro at a glance
Where: I-10, Exit 37 at Horizon Blvd.
Phone: (915) 790-4529
Fax: (915) 790-4528
Truck parking spaces: 290
Restaurants: Iron Skillet, Subway