Gas Station Gourmet
Emphasizing a transportation theme, this travel center
wows customers with quirky décor and good food.
BY AL HEBERT
It’s hard to miss the Oasis Travel Cen- ter in Robertsdale, Alabama. With an exterior facade designed to look like two train cars have collided with the building, this local landmark shouts, “Come inside!” And once inside, cus- tomers are treated to an atmosphere that screams travel.
“Five years ago, our owner’s vision was to turn
this into a travel-themed truck stop. It’s a unique
place and customers like it. Everyday people are
taking pictures and videos,” said Manager Linda
Scott. The travel theme continues into the convenience store of Oasis Travel Center, complete with a
pirate ship-themed checkout.
From Titanic to Hot Wheels
Oasis does seem to appeal to just about anyone.
For motorcycle enthusiasts, the store features
Harley Davidson-branded merchandise. Truck
drivers enjoy amenities such as a full-time me-
chanic onsite until 10 pm and on-call 24 hours a
day. There’s also a chapel with an onsite chaplain
who holds services on Sundays. And the Derailed
Diner, a re-creation of a railroad dining car, is a
train enthusiast’s — and food lover’s — dream.
Oasis owner Karen Brown designed each
table in the unique dining area around a different theme, “from planes to the Titanic to Hot
Wheels,” said Dale Elks, director of food services.
Each table has a travel trivia question.
The travel theme at Oasis attracts curious
patrons, but it’s the food that keeps them coming
back. Travelers, truckers and local customers
alike enjoy the home-style, made-from-scratch
Derailed Diner gained notoriety when one of
Chef Rick Woodruff’s creations made the Alabama Tourism Department’s list of 100 Dishes
to Eat in Alabama Before You Die. “I was trying
to come up with a signature dessert, something
that people would know us by,” said Woodruff. “So
we tried two different combinations, something
between a pie and a cheesecake might be a good
Crashing train cars mark the Derailed Diner
at the travel-themed Oasis Travel Center.