Al Hebert is the Gas Station Gourmet and
showcases America’s culinary treasure — gas station
cuisine. TV host Hebert shares these stories and on
occasion, a recipe or two at GasStationGourmet.
com. He is a regular NACS Magazine contributor,
bringing foodservice ideas to readers.
novelty. We wanted
people to feel like
they’re on a stage.”
So Sherrer gutted
and remodeled an
old server station
and made it a sit-down stage.
of people have
attempted the challenge, only five have
finished. To drive
around the first
brought in professional eater Randy
Santel. “He was only
semi-pro then, but
he did it pretty fast.
This was his 32nd
food challenge. He
ate it in 26 minutes
— a record that
If an enormous hamburger isn’t reason enough
for people to stop by his convenience store, Sherrer came up with another idea: Amish products. “I
started with candy and customers liked it. No one
else was selling Amish items,” he said.
But getting an order scheduled and
the product delivered posed a logistical
challenge at first. “There was a lot of leg
work. [The Amish suppliers] didn’t have
a telephone. They would come to town
in a horse and buggy, then call from a pay
phone. It took time,” said Sherrer, adding,
“It’s been worth it. We make better profit
margins on these products. Plus, custom-
ers see homemade Amish candy and they
While it might take time to source items
the competition doesn’t have, it’s worth it
according to Sherrer. “It brings loyal cus-
tomers. Some people make the same trip
three or four times a year. Unique items
bring them back.”
Baha hoodies and sweatshirts from
Mexico also fit with Sherrer’s strategy to
offer products that set him apart. “No one
around here carries them and we sell them
for $10 (below Internet cost). Our busi-
ness is a lot about the area, so East Coast
and West Coast trends don’t get here
quickly. I look for items going well on each
coast,” he said.
Located five miles from a town with
a population of 15,000, Cookin’ From
Scratch attracts two kinds of customers:
locals and travelers. Keeping these two
diverse groups happy can be a bit of a balancing act. Customers from the community want value, while travelers are looking
for something unique either from the
convenience store or the restaurant.
“You have to walk a line. You don’t want
to price yourself out with the locals. The
c-store drives the restaurant and the restaurant drives the c-store. This place would not
exist without either one,” he said.
COMPE TI TION
• Challengers have 66
minutes to complete the
Route 66 King of the Road
• Once the clock starts
ticking, the challenger is
not allowed to stand or
leave the designated
• To claim victory, participants must completely
eat a 66-ounce cheeseburger and 1. 5 pounds of
Check out the winners and
losers on Facebook: www.
Randy Santel, a professional eater, about to dive
into the Route 66 Kind of the Road Challenge.
If a giant cheeseburger is not
enough to attract hungry customers, Cookin’ From Scratch
also offers some of the best
tasting fried chicken around.
“This place was built on panfried chicken. It’s our calling
card,” said Sherrer, making
clear that the meat is never
submerged in grease.
“It takes longer, but it’s not
as greasy as deep fried. We
can run five or six skillets, but
it takes us 40 minutes to do
a pan of chicken,” explained
Sherrer, adding that they begin frying at 9: 30 am and keep
it in a low-humidity cabinet
so each piece of chicken stays
fresh and crispy.
Cookin’ From Scratch
offers five to eight food specials daily, including all-you-can-eat catfish every Friday.
The retailer also offers an
extensive menu featuring
breakfast, appetizers, sandwiches, country fried steaks
and homemade desserts, as
well as a children’s menu.