Austin truck stop becomes a Kwik Trip

Published 9:52 am Friday, April 25, 2014

By Jason Schoonover, Austin Daily Herald

AUSTIN — Austin officially has a third Kwik Trip.

The La Crosse, Wis-based company took over Watts Cookin’ and Austin Auto Truck Plaza last week, closed the business for several days and reopened it earlier this week as a Kwik Trip.

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While it doesn’t currently look like a Kwik Trip, officials promise it will by the end of the year.

Kwik Trip plans to start construction on a 7,000-square-foot truck stop in June or July. The current truck stop will remain open during construction, as the new truck stop will be in a different location on the property. Hans Zietlow, director of real estate at Kwik Trip, has big plans for the new facility, which will likely open in November.

“It’ll be the nicest convenience store and fuel stations off of I-90 across the state of Minnesota,” Zietlow said.

The new store will cost around $5 million, which includes equipment. The new store will be a little larger and nicer than the new Albert Lea location finished last year, according to Zietlow.

“It’ll be a pretty expensive improvement, but it’ll be good for the city of Austin,” he said.

The site appealed to Kwik Trip because it offered a location with diesel right along Interstate 90. The new station will sell compressed natural gas, or CNG, which the company sees as the fuel of the future, Zietlow said. While CNG can be used as an alternative to gasoline or diesel, only a small percentage of vehicles on the U.S. market run on CNG. The Austin truck stop would be one of only 19 Kwik Trips that sell CNG, according to its website, although that includes one in Rochester, Owatonna and Mankato, and the new Kwik Trip in Albert Lea will sell it this spring.

Earlier this month, Zietlow confirmed the company wants to one day build a fourth Kwik Trip in northwest Austin, but no plans are imminent. It won’t necessarily be at the Gymocha property at 1300 14 St. NW, which Kwik Trip bought for $365,000 last month.

If Kwik Trip eventually moves forward on a location in Northwest Austin, Zietlow expects the current sites — 1401 Fourth St. NW and 1201 W. Oakland Ave. — to remain open.

Kwik Trip, founded in 1965 in Eau Claire, Wis., has more than 10,000 employees and about 450 locations in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, including about 110 in Minnesota, according to its website.