Name of company:
P&H Truck Stop
# of stores:
P&H Truck Stop has evolved from a “very little, tiny building with diesel pumps for truckers” to a sprawling complex catering to long-haulers and locals alike, according to Elaine Stevens, general manager of the Wells River, Vermont, store. Stevens would know—she’s been working for P&H Truck Stop for most of its existence, clocking 16 years in the early days, then coming back in 2006 after a brief hiatus.
“We’ve been written up in so many different magazines and have even been on the Food Network in the late 1990s as one of the top 10 best truck stops,” she said. “That’s a testament to how good our fresh foodservice was—and still is.”
Local Cooking for Weary Travelers
Positioned along Interstate 91, a popular travel route for truckers, P&H Truck Stop started as a place to fuel up both vehicles and stomachs. “Delbert Lee started the store with a small, 12-stool restaurant,” Stevens said. “Local ladies brought in their home cooking to P&H.” Popular menu items back then included hot dogs and beans, chicken and biscuits and chop suey. A local baker supplied fresh homemade pies, some of which became famous outside of Vermont, such as the maple cream pie.
By the early 1990s, the truck stop had become “a good place for truckers to stop for a shower and good food with friendly service,” she said. The truck plaza even offered rooms for truckers to catch some shut eye during their trip, although those rooms have since been revamped into private showers.
As word spread about the store, the foodservice section evolved from a single counter to booths and tables for more seating. “We took on more cooks, including some who experimented in our bakery,” Stevens added. P&H became known for its cinnamon raisin bread and now offers seven different kinds of fresh breads made in-house. The kitchen also churns out dozens of rolls and pies for to-go orders. “We think we have the world’s best dinner rolls, and each Thanksgiving we’ll sell better than 600 dozen rolls and 600 pies to-go for the holiday,” she said.
Today’s menu boasts club sandwiches, huge “Big Rig” burgers and rotating daily specials, including chicken and biscuits every Friday. “We’ve expanded our offerings and tried to change it up over the years to meet the different taste expectations of our customers,” Stevens said. “People come especially for our daily specials, and our Canadian neighbors particularly like our hamburger steak with cheese and fries.”
Customers who don’t want to wait for hot food can grab prepackaged sandwiches and chicken salad, along with smaller portions of daily specials. Frozen meat pies and frozen dough for dinner rolls are available, too. “We are in the process of setting up heat slides for hot to-go dinners, which we hope to roll out soon,” Stevens said.
A coffee bar provides fresh-ground cups of Alltown Coffee from bean-to-cup machines, while coolers stock packaged beverages. The store carries snacks and a full selection of candy, along with a small section of health and beauty products and essentials and accessories for truckers.
The bakery offers seven kinds of bread, including cinnamon raisin.
At P&H Truck Stop, truckers, tourists and locals can pick up some local Vermont goods along with their fresh foodservice order. “We stock good maple syrup made in Vermont, as well as a selection of candies also made in the state,” said Elaine Stevens, general manager of the Wells River, Vermont, store. Tourists can snag Vermont t-shirts, hats and bumper stickers, too.
A Hometown Connection on the Road
P&H Truck Stop offers visitors an authentic local experience while they’re just passing through. A part of that authenticity comes from caring for the Wells River community. The store frequently supports the local community with donations. “Our most common ask is to donate our dinner rolls to events, and we gladly do that on a regular basis,” Stevens said.
The employees add to the local vibe, with friendly people waiting tables and working behind the counter. “While we feel the labor pinch like everyone else, we’ve been fortunate to have some really outgoing waitresses, which makes our restaurant an even better place to stop by,” Stevens said.
Stevens hopes customers visiting the P&H Truck Stop will leave thinking, “That was a fun place.” She explains, “I’ve had people who come in and have a waitress who interacts with them enough say when they’re leaving what a fun time they had. To me, there’s not a better feeling in the world than knowing you made someone’s day a little brighter.”