Cars and trucks at Exit 11 of Interstate 35 pull onto East Main Street to enter Trail’s Travel Center, which already has new Petro signs. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Trail’s becomes a Petro palace

Published 10:38am Friday, October 26, 2012

Trail’s Travel Center is switching its brand name and changing its restaurant.

On Monday, it had a big sign out front showing it is part of TA Travel Centers. On Tuesday, a green sign saying “Petro” in white letters was put in its place. The popular Interstate 35 stop is now part of Petro Stopping Centers.

There’s more. The restaurant will become an Iron Skillet Restaurant, and a bar with a Viking theme — Nordic Vikings, not Minnesota Vikings — will open, too. They will replace Trail’s Restaurant. The remodeling work begins in November and should wrap up by the start of 2013, said Trail’s Travel Center General Manager Steve Klingman.

“The restaurant will be remodeled and will bring back the buffet everyone loved,” Trail’s Travel Center President Rocky Trail said.

TA stands for Travel Centers of America. Travel Centers of America acquired the Petro brand in 2007.

Trail’s Travel Center President Rocky Trail said the switch allows the company to offer the Iron Skillet and said Petro is more fitting to the size and nature of the popular Interstate 35 stop. TA usually is branded at smaller locations than Petro.

“We are a much better fit for the Petro Stopping Centers brand because of our size, quality and amenities that our facility is able to offer.” Trail added.

The new bar will be a full-service tavern called the Skol Tavern, he said. Its design will fit with the Nordic castle look of Trail’s Travel Center in general. The statue of the two large Vikings will be placed at the entrance to the Iron Skillet, Klingman said.

The Iron Skillet is known for home-style cooking and popularity among travelers, according to its website.

There are 72 Petro locations in the United States. The closest Petro Stopping Centers location is in Clearwater on Interstate 94 near St. Cloud. The only other one on Interstate 35 is in Hillsboro, Texas. The only other one on Interstate 90 is in Portage, Wis.

“The Trail family will still own and operate this location as before,” Trail said, “and the public will still have the pleasure of seeing the same bright faces serving them as in the past. Every customer can rest assured that they will still receive the same outstanding service they have come to expect from Trail’s Travel Center.”