Buc-ee’s secret to success: Why do travelers love it so much?

Buc-ee’s is a filling station phenomenon, with travelers driving miles out of their way to visit it on their southern trips.

Now, Buc-ee’s is coming to Huber Heights — its first store in Ohio next year.

Our content partners at WCPO drove two hours south of Cincinnati to Richmond, Ky., to see one in action and find out what all the fuss is about.

What you will find when you step inside

The first thing consumers may notice when pulling in at Buc-ee’s is that it’s big — as in football field-size big.

“Welcome to Buc-ees!” the checkout clerks yell to everyone walking in.

This is no standard highway gas station. It’s not even comparable to Love’s or Pilot truck stops. It’s a travel center on steroids.

Customer Dawn Knight said her daughter are regulars, visiting as many as they can.

“We stop every time we go back and forth to Florida,” Knight said. “We’ve been to Daytona, the one here, two in Tennessee.”

If you’ve never been to a Buc-ee’s, think of it as a giant travel center combined with a clothing and provisions store, a southern restaurant and a toy store; essentially a theme park on the highway.

You won’t find day-old hot dogs on a roller here. Travelers line up waiting for the moment when there’s fresh “brisket on the board.”

“Chopped brisket on the board!” the cook yells out to the entire store every 10 minutes or so.

“Yay! Brisket on the board,” other employees respond.

It’s designed to lure customers to the giant cooking center in the middle of the store, and it works.

“Their brisket sandwiches are amazing,” one customer told us after grabbing two of them.

Not a brisket fan? Not a problem.

There’s also pulled pork, sausage on a stick, beef jerky, pre-made sandwiches and salads, and all sorts of fresh desserts, including bread pudding and homemade fudge.

People “go nuts” over their roasted pecans and cashews, and big bags of “Beaver Nuggets,” crunchy popcorn bites.

Clean restrooms, cheap gasoline

Elizabeth Bursey and her daughter Kaylea were visiting for the first time from Michigan. They were impressed by the restrooms, known for being among the cleanest on the highway.

“I love how the restrooms are clean, and private and secure,” Kalyea Bursey said.

Outside, customers will find more than 100 gas pumps, with low gas prices.

Regular was $3.18 the day WCPO visited — 30 cents lower than surrounding stations, making gas a “loss leader” to get people inside the store to shop and eat.

There are some downsides, however, such as:

  • Big crowds on a busy summer day.
  • No indoor seating. You have to eat your brisket or pulled pork sandwich outside, or most commonly, in your car.
  • Many truckers don’t like Buc-ee’s because 18-wheelers are not allowed. It is not a truck stop.

But to many families, it’s “amazing. 10 out of 10. Five stars,” the Burseys said.

Buc’ee’s first Ohio location will open in another year or so in Huber Heights, just north of Dayton near the intersection of Interstate 75 and I-70, two of the biggest highways in America.

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