UPDATE: Love's Rides the Wild Wind (Video)
Travel center chain reopens OK City store destroyed by twister in 2010
Published in CSP Daily News
OKLAHOMA CITY -- On May 10, 2010, the Love's Travel Stop in east Oklahoma City took a direct hit from a tornado. The company saw it as an opportunity to come back bigger and stronger. Four years and five days after the storm, Love's reopened a new state-of-the-art travel stop.
Warren Waltz, the general manager who was inside the store when the tornado hit, describes the reopening as a "homecoming."
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. celebrated the reopening of the travel stop on I-40 at Exit 166, on May 15.
"Our Travel Stop unfortunately sustained a direct hit from one the tornadoes; it's pretty much gone," Love's spokesperson Christina Dukeman told CSP Daily News at the time. "The good news is that nobody was seriously hurt. People were pulling off the road to seek shelter in the store. We brought them in and our managers got everybody into the beverage cooler and restrooms."
Four years later, Love's leaders and members of the Love family welcomed the company's 320th store back at an event Thursday morning.
The new 11,000-square-foot facility is significantly larger than the previous location and features the latest Love's has to offer, including an expanded fountain drink selection, fresh fruit, travel items, gift merchandise and two restaurants, McDonald's and Subway.
An onsite Love's Truck Tire Care center is available for professional drivers as well as 90 truck parking spaces, seven showers, bulk diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), CAT scales, RFID cardless fueling technology and other amenities to serve professional drivers.
Love's Fast-Fill CNG (compressed natural gas) will be available later this summer.
"What happened four years ago was devastating to the store, but we're fortunate that everyone was okay," said Frank Love, co-CEO of Love's Travel Stops. "We knew we were going to rebuild so that we could continue serving this great community, as well as professional drivers and travelers who rely on Love's for a fast, clean and friendly place to stop."
Not only is it a grand reopening, but also a homecoming of sorts for a handful of employees who will return to work at this location, the company said on Facebook. Love's employee of 14 years, Warren Waltz, will be returning to the store to serve as general manager.
"We're thrilled to be back in the community," Waltz said. "We will be able to take care of those customers that we couldn't in the past."
Founded in 1964 by Tom Love, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. is based in Oklahoma City and remains entirely family-owned and operated. It has more than 310 locations and 190 Love's Truck Tire Care centers in 39 states.