With more than 30 years designing retail fuel centers, MRP Design Group has seen it all in the petroleum industry, from small remodels to award-winning travel centers. One trend over the last several years stands out above them all and would seem to continue and grow into the indefinite future. Retail fuel travel centers have increased their physical space, offering more and more amenities. And in the process, they’re not just places you stop at on the way to somewhere else; rather, they are becoming destinations in and of themselves.
Some might call them gas stations on steroids. In addition to many more pumps onsite, the convenience store is the area where many more additions are being factored into architectural plans so customers can fuel up inside as well as outside.
The most obvious area here is food, and the choices can be tremendous. Fresh made-to-order is a big trend here, with kitchen-dedicated employees ready to craft your sandwich, wrap, or breakfast item, or become your barista to serve you hot and cold drinks, smoothies, and shakes. In RaceTrac’s new design you can customize your order at a touchscreen kiosk and then watch your sub, sandwich or pizza being made to order.
Of course, ready-made and self-serve is still a staple of c-stores and commands increasingly more square footage. Walls of soda options, banks of coffee drinks with a wide display of add-ins and toppings, and ready-made sandwiches and salads beckon the weary traveler and the professional on the go. Self-serve frozen yogurt and ice cream are becoming the norm in new designs as well, like RaceTrac’s Swirl World, with typically 10 options of ice creams, yogurts, sorbets and more, along with a huge toppings bar for customization.
Dash In, a chain local to Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, is a good representative of one of the newest trends, where the law allows. They feature an extensive craft beer selection as well as growlers to go and beer and wine by the glass.
In a bid to make you stay a while longer, many new concept travel centers feature expanded seating options inside and outside where you can relax or watch television before hitting the road. Gift sections that may rival your local Pier One are also part of the mix, along with expanded offerings of snacks, including better-for-you and healthier selections.
Probably the granddaddy of all the large destination travel centers is the Texas chain Buc-ee’s. Its New Braunfels store is the largest convenience store in the world, boasting a 68,000 square foot building (larger than most grocery stores) on 18 acres with 120 fueling pumps. Walls of different flavors of beef jerky and hundreds of other bags of nuts, trail mixes, candy, and a myriad of other snacks await you. Beef brisket is chopped before your eyes and served to you in a bun with onions, pickles, and a special sauce. Buc-ee’s bathrooms are plentiful, private, well-lit, and award-winningly clean. And yes, there’s an award for that!
As the vision for large travel centers continues to grow. MRP Design Group is right there designing those new prototypes. We have a dedicated team of architects and engineers that focus in on travel center, convenience store, and alternative energy design, studying trends and industry changes and identifying the most effective approaches. Connect with us today and let’s discover how we can help you meet your architectural goals.