Kenly 95 Petro Is a Truckers’ Paradise

While the truck stop caters to professional drivers, the complex has plenty to lure tourists and locals alike.

May 02, 2023

By Sarah Hamaker

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Kenly 95 Petro in Kenly, North Carolina, has the appearance of a small city, with its sprawling complex of buildings and fuel locations designated for truckers and regular cars. When it first opened in May 1980 as Truckland Truckstop, the location included a small store, sit-down restaurant and diesel fuel islands. But that was only the beginning of expansions and name changes before it became the Kenly 95 Petro of today.

“Through the years, we’ve kept growing physically and sales-wise,” said Ernie Brame, general manager with Corbitt Partners LLC, which operates as Kenly 95 Petro.

A Growing Business

Within two years of its existence, the company became a franchisee of TravelCenters of America and within a decade, the owners began the first of many expansions and remodels, from adding a convenience store and mechanics shop to revamping the restrooms and shower facilities. Today, the complex is the largest truck stop on the East Coast and has five fast-food restaurants in its food court, plus the full-service Iron Skillet restaurant.

“In the older days, we used to market ourselves as being midway between the apple (New York City) and the orange (Florida),” Brame said. Kenly 95 “tries to give a North Carolina flavor for the car traveler and tourist in our retail operation, along with our extensive gear and accessories for truckers,” he said. For example, the store stocks truck parts and chrome accessories and clothing for truckers and motorcyclists. For tourists, Kenly 95 has North Carolina souvenirs and traveler essentials.

Brame said they are constantly turning over inventory and trying new items. “Sometimes, we have what we think will be a sure fit and it fizzles,” he said. “Then we get some items, like these toy rifles that shoot salt at flies to kill them called Bug-A-Salt, and those sold like hot cakes.”

Another surprising hit was to-go deviled eggs. “I’d noticed deviled eggs were the first to go at covered-dish church suppers, so thought we should try making them,” Brame said. “We put six half deviled eggs in a grab-and-go container and sold 20 to 30 in a day. Now even Iowa 80 has put the item in their store.”

A North Carolina Connection

Kenly 95 plays up its North Carolina pride with its décor. For example, a scaled 65-foot replica of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse (the original is 215 miles to the east) welcomes truckers and tourists, drawing attention to the location. “We have quite a few people each day who stop to snap their photo beside our lighthouse,” Brame said. “It’s helped make Kenly 95 Petro a destination of its own.”

Read the remainder of the NACS Magazine Ideas 2 Go article “More Than a Truckers’ Paradise” in the April issue.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer, NACS Magazine contributor and romantic suspense author based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at sarahhamakerfiction.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement