CLEAR FORK VALLEY — The bright lights illuminating the new Love’s Real Estate service facility served as beacons Thursday for travelers seeking relief from a few local snowstorms.
And, they could get gasoline and several kinds of good foods at the store, two restaurants and other facilities at the stop at I-71 and State Route 97.
Thursday was the “soft opening” day at the Love’s station.
The project has been underway for months. A large area next to the filling station islands and store structure provides space for large trucks.
Inside the store, service is available for commercial truck drivers, said Eric Hoagland, manager of the store.
A Subway restaurant, owned by local residents Jason and Stephanie Wendland, occupies one space in the Love’s building. A Taco John’s also shares space.
Travelers were eyeing offerings in those restaurants plus looking at things in the Love’s store area.
Courtney Hardin, manager at the Taco John’s restaurant, said they had their first “drive through” customer 20 minutes after 7 a.m., the hour for the start of the soft opening.
At the Subway, the way of buying food has been made easier by kiosks situated around the restaurant. A customer can go to a kiosk, punch in any number of options, and place an order. The kiosk also has a place where a customer can run a card.
The kiosks were not fully operational Thursday, but the Wendlands said that is to be expected when a place has opening day.
The Wendlands said they have about 20 employees, and are looking to hire 20 more. Hardin, at Taco John’s, said they are in the same situation. They have 20 workers, and want to get about 20 more.
Jason and Stephanie Wendland also own the Subway in Bellville.
They said the situation at their new location is different, in that the structure is new and they had to supervise everything.
Pieces of the store were shipped in crates and boxes.
Stephanie Wendland said they sometimes worked until 2 or 3 a.m. to work on construction projects.
The Subway will be open 24 hours.
This Subway is the first in the state of Ohio to have what is called a “Fresh forward” decor, said Stephanie Wendland. She said Subway officials are going to be watching how things progress in their restaurant to see if certain test ovens in use there work.
At the Subway store, there are 16 cashiers, seven tire guys and three mechanics, plus management staff, said Hoagland. That facility is set up to help the commercial truck drivers who come through, he said.