(This article first appeared in the November issue of NACS Magazine.)
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.
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