ness, Oasis Travel Center has a simple approach.
“We lead by example; we’re not managers, we
are leaders. Our owner and the owner’s representative, Michael Ouimet, set the example for
the managers and we set the example for the
staff,” said Scott.
Each manager knows what is going on in
every department of the store and no task is
too small for management. “I’ll do dishes, clean
bathrooms, whatever is needed to take care of a
guest,” added Scott. “I’ve been in this business
for 35 years and I worked my way up. You can’t
forget where you came from.”
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.
combination. So, I put the pecan pie
104 Hours a Year
cheesecake with the actual pecan
pie inside the cheesecake and that’s
the one that really made it big.”
Oasis also features a Subway and
a Chester’s for customers who are
on the go.
Although the travel center address is Robertsdale, it’s actually
a 20-minute drive from town, so
enticing the locals to make the
drive to the Derailed Diner takes
effort. Elks has a unique strategy
to attract business: He personally
makes marketing calls within a 10-
mile radius of Oasis.
“A lot of people don’t think of
eating at a truck stop. I tell them
to come by and see me. During the
week, our lunch between 11 am
and 1 pm nets about $2,000 in two
hours. That’s a lot of local diners,”
“I block out two hours each
Thursday. I visit churches and meet
the pastors; we’re in the Bible Belt. I
visit businesses and get to know the
people. It comes out to 104 hours a
year,” explained Elks. He hands out
marked coupons on the visits. When
they are used he is able to track
where the customer originates and
his efforts have paid off.
“Sunday lunch is huge. We have a
lot of small churches that come in. …
Beat the pavement, get to know the
people and they will come in,” said
Elks. To further encourage local
patronage, local residents receive a
A Simple Example
While management style and staff
training varies from business to busi-
At Christmas the Derailed
Diner turns into “The
Polar Express,” where
local actors act out
scenes from the popular
2004 children’s book.
Children are also treated to
hot chocolate and cookies.
“This is a great way
to givesomething back
to the community. We
were booked solid for
the three-night event.
Our truck stop chaplain
dresses as Santa and kids
have pictures taken with
him. Each child receives
a kids-eat-free voucher.
We want the family to
come back in again,“
“When my kids were
little, we went where they
wanted to go eat,” Elks
remembers. “Kids and
churches will build your