AUSTIN, Minn. -- The Kwik Trip Inc. convenience store chain will likely buy the Watts Cookin’ restaurant location in Austin, Minn., for an undisclosed price, and build a $5-million, 6,000- to 7,000-square-foot truck stop on neighboring property.
“We plan to upgrade an old facility into the nicest facility on Interstate 90 going across Minnesota,” Hans Zietlow, director of real estate at Kwik Trip, told the Austin Daily Herald.
The Watts truck stop and restaurant, which has 45 employees, would stay open during construction under owner Kermit Watts.
The Kwik Trip location would employ 30 to 40 workers and sell compressed natural gas, or CNG, which the company sees as the fuel of the future, Zietlow said. The Austin truck stop will be one of only 19 Kwik Trips that sell CNG, according to its website.
Kwik Trip, which would own about 5 additional acres, hopes to lease space to a sit-down restaurant and a hotel. A restaurant could occupy two acres and a hotel could take three acres, but, “It’s all kind of preliminary,” Zietlow told the newspaper.
Watts would not comment on the deal. In December, he announced plans to close his 24-hours-per-day, 365-days-per-year business for the first and last time at the end of the month, unless he could work out an agreement with a buyer.
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.