November 13, 2015 by Jill Christensen
With the Audubon City Council approving a voluntary annexation plan on the south edge of the city, plans for the new Waspy’s Truck Stop, located at 2079 Highway 71, south of Audubon, are moving right along.
General manager John Anderson said the management team is excited to proceed with the development.
“Our next step is permitting and land development,” he said. “We will have to determine how it’s going to hook up to the city water and sewer plans. We are also working on purchasing more land to make the lot bigger.”
Surveying is set to soon start and, weather permitting, dirt work and demolition of the existing building will happen in the coming weeks.
Waspy’s Truck Stop named after property owner Lawrence Handlos, who’s nickname is Waspy, will be a full service truck stop, complete with a convenience store, café with 24 hour service, coffee bar, 40-room hotel, RV dump station and truck wash.
The fuel aspect of the business will have 9 diesel pumps and 16 pumps on the gas side. Anderson said he is looking at fuel prices daily, trying to determine which fuel supplier will best fit the needs of the company and local customers.
Brian Handlos, who is assisting Anderson in the planning of the project said, “Branded or unbranded, we haven’t yet decided. We are looking for a good, quality fuel at the price we want.”
One of the nine pumps on the diesel side will have agricultural diesel, with enough room for a tractor or combine to pull up to the pump, as well as kerosene.
Handlos added, “We are looking into a variety of diesel, versus having straight no. 2, so truck drivers can blend their own if they so choose. The gas side will also feature a variety of fuels from super, premium, unleaded and an ethanol variety. We’re looking at 140,000 gallon fuel storage capacity right now.”
A certified scale with five-axle capacity will also be available, as well as an RV dump station to accommodate travelers.
The site will feature a 14,500 square foot convenience store and restaurant with a portion dedicated to truck drivers with trucking amenities, accessories, shower facilities and a trucker’s lounge.
Anderson said, “The convenience store will be a free flowing area between the trucking side and the restaurant. The store will feature hot, fresh, fast food items, soft serve, lots of cooler area, including a walk in cooler and a coffee bar.”
Anderson and Handlos said they have been working with both Starbucks and Caribou Coffee in an effort to bring a nationally branded coffee shop to Waspy’s.
“We are still developing those options,” Handlos said. “Those are our top two choices and we are working to see which one best fits our needs.”
There will be a seating area in the coffee bar, as well as a drive up window for coffee services. Homemade- from scratch donuts are also being planned for the coffee bar.
The restaurant will be open 24/7 and will feature booth, table and diner counter seating for 200, along with an 1,100 square foot kitchen.
“Breakfast will be available 24 hours a day and the emphasis will be on homemade, from scratch menu items, “ Anderson noted.
Handlos added that homemade pizzas with a take out and local delivery option is something they are hoping to feature with the restaurant. They are also looking at having weekend specials featuring upper choice to prime steaks.
Along with the convenience store, fuel service, restaurant and coffee bar, Waspy’s will feature a two-story 40-room hotel, with all rooms accessed from the inside.
Anderson said, “The hotel will feature everything from single queen rooms to double occupancy. Some of the rooms will be adjoining and all rooms on the lower level will be handicapped accessible.”
The hotel will also have a conference room, exercise room, spa area with sauna and hot tub, business center and a social room with a small breakfast area. In lieu of a continental breakfast, overnight guests will be given a discount at the restaurant.
The upper level of the restaurant and convenience store area will be the 3,200 square foot business office area complete with employee lounge and locker room area. Laundry facilities will be located on both floors of the hotel and in the truck stop area to make things easier for employees and guests. The duo anticipates that Waspy’s will employ 76 people, full and part time, over all shifts.
Handlos said, “We’re excited with who we’ve brought on board, so far. People with a lot of experience and personality are joining our staff and its very exciting.”
The final component of the truck stop is a truck wash, which is still under development. Handlos said details on that aspect are still being hammered out. He anticipates two bays for livestock trailers and one for dry vans and tanker exteriors. Their goal with the truck wash and with the facility, in general is to be extremely eco-friendly.
“Our truck wash will be a dry clean first, so minimal water will be needed,” Handlos stated. “We will also have a water filtration system in place that all water will go through before it hits the sewer system. We have been doing a lot of work to make sure we are eco-friendly and researching the best ways to achieve those goals.”
Parking and security are two very important areas that Handlos, Anderson and his team are focusing on.
“Throughout the whole facility, you’ll find ample parking,” Handlos said. “I don’t like pulling into a parking lot and having parking spaces very close together. You’re going to find wide parking places and lots of them, for both cars and trucks.”
Security cameras and plenty of directional LED lighting will be put into place for the safety and security of the public.
“We want this to be a safe and enjoyable place for people of all ages,” Handlos noted. “I can see kids coming here after school dances for ice cream or breakfast and we want them to feel safe. We will have features in place to make sure of that.”
Anderson said that local contractors are being utilized in every aspect of the project.
“We’re having a different general contractor for each entity with the hope that they will all be completed at the same time,” he stated. “All of the cement will be local. Steve May is working on the design and we’ve contacted every local contractor possible. We truly want this to be a benefit to the community.”
Handlos added, “Darrell and Kay Whitehead always knew this property was destined for great things. We want to thank them for allowing us to turn this into something everyone can benefit from.”
Waspy’s Truck Stop is slated to open in late 2016.
Courtesy of Jill Christensen, Audubon County Advocate Journal, 11/12/15.