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Open for business

Newly-finished travel plaza ready for Thanksgiving motorists

November 23, 2012
Teresa Wood - Correspondent ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

WILLIAMS - If you build it, they will come.

No, it's not a ball field, but the new Flying J Travel Plaza at U.S. Interstate 35 and Iowa Highway D25 west of Williams.

The new travel plaza opened its doors at 6 a.m. on Nov. 19 after a 90-day absence, said Will Sanders, Regional Manager.

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Flying J Travel Plaza west of Williams at U.S. Interstate-35 and Iowa Highway D25 opened on Nov. 19 at 6 a.m. The store caters to the over-the-road driver as well as the casual traveler with food, fuel and facilities in the 12,000-square-foot complex.

Demolition of the Trump Plaza began Aug.13 and the new store opening was originally slated for December, according to Sharon Donnell, Pilot Flying J Center executive office manager.

The Knoxville, Tenn. company owns and operates 600 travel centers throughout the United States and Canada. With 60,000 parking spaces, 4,000 shower facilities and 21,000 employees, it dominates the travel center industry.

Employs 42

The 12,000-square-foot Williams store employs 42 local residents who hail from Williams, Iowa Falls, Webster City, Ames and Dows.

The 24-hour Flying J Travel Plaza caters to the over-the-road professional driver as well as the casual traveler, said Greg Spurgeon, manager.

"We have all you need for your auto and travel needs," Spurgeon said.

Outside, diesel fueling traffic for trucks is diverted from the area for passenger vehicles. An RV lane at the end of the passenger fueling station allows for additional vehicle height. The facility also offers propane refills and a dumping station, said Sanders.

Inside the travel plaza, seven shower rooms and a shaving area are available in addition to the public restroom facilities, said Sanders. The secure shower area is available for a fee which includes a shower/toilet area with towels and washcloths.

With the catastrophic natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, the Flying J is committed to stepping up and being a good neighbor, said Sanders.

Citing a winter storm which disrupted electricity in the northeast Hamilton County area a few years ago, Sanders said that Flying J would strive to provide relief by bringing in generators and keeping the store in operation for local residents.

"We strive to be a good neighbor," he said.

Amenities also include a lounge with two television sets and theatre-style seating, a WiFi and laptop center, a game room and public laundry facilities, said Sanders.

"When he comes off the road, a driver has to conduct business," he said. To help facilitate the transition for the trucker, Flying J is also offers Western Union services, FAX and copy services and an ATM.

The store is divided into two sections - food and resources for drivers, said Sanders.

Flying J is a typical convenience store with snack foods but also offers an expanded menu, said Sanders.

Coffee is one of the staples of a truck stop and Flying J is unique in that it is staffed by a coffee hostess whose sole job it is to insure that the eight different brews of cappuccino are readily available to customers on demand.

Susan Stewart serves as the coffee hostess and makes sure that the coffee is hot and ready to go in addition to stocking a full range of coffee condiments.

"We try to accommodate every coffee drinker's need," said Sanders. The coffee bar also offers chilled creamers, a variety of flavor additives as well as raw and refined sugar.

The deli offers Oscar Mayer brand hot dogs in a variety of flavors with all the condiments for dressing up one of America's favorite foods, said Sanders.

Deli foods are prepared on site, said Sanders and include pizza, chicken tenders, breakfast sandwiches and four signature soups including broccoli cheese, loaded potato, chili and chicken noodle, said Sanders. Fresh fruit is also available, daily. The large, to-go, any style Flying J pizza is a bargain at $10.99, said Sanders.

The senses of any visitor entering the travel center will be captivated by the aroma of Cinnabon. The franchise offers two different varieties of cinnamon rolls that are made fresh on the premises by Lori Roosa.

On its second day of operation, the Williams Flying J Travel Plaza Cinnabon hit record sales, outselling all other locations in the company's 600 stores, said Sanders.

"On the first day, it was outstanding. But on the second day, they did better than the first and hit record sales," he said.

Subway shop

The travel center also houses a Subway sandwich shop. Managed by Cassie Butler, of Iowa Falls, the Subway shop employs 14 and is also open 24/7.

"We have been experiencing great sales," said Butler on Wednesday, the third day of operation. "We hope today to serve all the holiday travelers."

The Williams Subway also offers catering services which include party subs, party platters and a variety of cookies including the new peanut butter, M&M or double chocolate chip cookies, said Butler.

Over in the convenience store, there is an eight foot section of health products and beauty aides.

"We try to serve not only the driver out on the road, but the local community as well," said Sanders. "Late at night when you have a sick baby, we are a resource, especially for our stores that serve rural areas."

The store also stocks accessories to serve every cell phone need, said Sanders.

"We've got you covered," he said while strolling past the Blue Tooth, GPS earphones, chargers and adapter displays.

In the center of the store, customers will find videos for sale as well as novelty t-shirts.

"We carry bubble jackets, too for the driver who comes from Texas and realizes it's cold in Iowa," said Sanders.

Items for drivers

At halfway through the merchandise floor, the focus shifts to the professional driver. Merchandise includes 12 volt adapters and travel size slow cookers, vacuums, coffee makers, circulating fans as well as cables, windshield wipers and gloves.

Also in stock are tools, air hoses and electrical tape.

Flying J also stocks winter chemical additives by the case for diesel vehicles and farm machinery, said Sanders.

The electronic case offers HD televisions, CB radios, GPS equipment and inverters.

The store offers just about anything a driver may want in addition to what a local resident may need, said Sanders.

"We also sell milk, bread and bottled water," he said of the basic necessities of life.

"At the end of the day, we intend to be a good citizen by offering a clean and safe harbor whether to the local resident or the over-the-road traveler," Sanders said. "We want to offer great customer service."

A grand opening will be scheduled in December at a later date, said Sanders.



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