A Big Small-Town Personality

The ‘Gas Station Gourmet’ checks out Rock’s Grill & Pizzeria in Oklahoma.

March 11, 2024

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

If you’re road-tripping around the country, you will often find a convenience store with a large presence in a small town. That presence has nothing to do with square feet. It’s about food and personality.

Rock’s Grill & Pizzeria has a big presence in Fairfax, Oklahoma, population 1,136.

Rock and Mitzi Reese are the co-owners. Mitzi explained, “My husband is third-generation. His grandparents and parents started it all.”

In 2022, Mitzi hired Candice Coble, who had a few ideas on how to improve things. Soon, she was managing the store.

Coble said, “I was only really looking for a part-time job, but I met Rock and Mitzi and instantly knew that’s where I was supposed to be and that we would be a great team.”

“The biggest thing for us is that this store is like a hidden gem,” Coble said. “It looks like a gas station, it looks like a c-store, but you have to come inside for the food. We say comfort food is created here.”

Mitzi and Coble approach menu planning the same way. “Mitzi walked in [one day] and said, ‘Quiche sounds really good.’ She had a meme about quiche. I said, ‘I guess I’m going to make quiche.’ A lot of my day goes like this. I feel like making something, and I make it,” Coble said.

Dessert First

Baked goods are the newest addition to the food program, but they’ve quickly become a hit with customers. There was one small hitch in the beginning: There was no oven.

“Rock suggested I start baking banana bread,” Coble said. “I told him we didn’t have an oven. The next day, he started shopping for an oven.”

The oven was a good move. It’s led to a thriving bakery. In fact, when you walk into the store, it’s like a boulangerie.

“We can’t keep the chocolate chip cookies,” Coble said. “We bake those all day. They go like crazy. We have a secret ingredient.”

She continued, “Blueberry muffins are hands down the best sellers. People call in to see if we have muffins. Everything is made from scratch, and that is the difference. I have a business background, but I love baking. You can always tell when someone’s baking because it’s part of their job as opposed to when they’re baking because they enjoy baking.”

To continue reading, check out the March issue of NACS Magazine.