Travel Center, restaurant a place for truckers and locals | Local News
The Freyberg family’s new Mankato Travel Center and Ten20 Tavern is a paradise for tractor-trailer drivers who have long hoped for a full-service truck stop in Mankato.
But the business also aims to be a place where area residents can eat, drink, refuel and maybe wash their vehicle or their pets.
“It was my idea, but they developed it,” Steve Freyberg said of his idea for a roadhouse and his sons Corey and Tyler taking it to the next level.
The center, which has begun a soft opening as contractors complete final works, is at 1310 Adams St. along Blue Earth County Road 12.
“The truckers are happy,” Corey said. “It was a dream for us for a while and it finally came true.”
The city has long needed a major truck transportation hub, as semi-automatic traffic has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to a growing industrial base and businesses such as the Walmart distribution center. In recent years, truckers have often had to resort to parking along roads, a dilemma for the city and truckers due to safety concerns.
A tractor-trailer driver named Jeff, who declined to give his last name, was checking out the center and the restaurant. A Texas resident, he drives for Tyson Foods and was delivering a load he picked up in North Carolina.
“It’s time they opened up a place like this, especially with Walmart (distribution center),” he said, pointing to the massive center just to the northwest. “I made one of the first deliveries to Walmart when it opened.”
He gave the restaurant his thumbs up, which he says is a nice break from the food available at most truck stops. While sit-down restaurants at truck stops were once sought after by truckers, vacationers or locals because they were known for good food at a reasonable price, Jeff said that’s no longer the case.
“Almost all truck stops now only have fast food chains,” he said.
Tyler Freyberg said they considered having a fast food chain at Mankato Travel Center. “We thought about it, but when we spoke to the truckers they wanted homemade food, so that decided for us.”
The Freybergs have hired two people with long experience in the restaurant business – general manager Marti Bennett and executive chef Tyson Dull, who was the chef at the former Bonfire and Rounders. Heather Tyree is the bar manager, while Sean Mahowald is the convenience store manager with Tyler Johnson, assistant manager.
“We were lucky to hire good people,” Corey said.
WEB Construction is the general contractor for the project, with Pioneer Bank providing the financing.
The Freybergs said they not only wanted to make sure truckers had everything they needed, but also wanted to meet the needs of area residents.
The Mankato Travel Center has 68 overnight parking spaces, eight refueling lanes, gas pumps for passenger vehicles, a soon-to-open car and pet wash building, and a convenience store open 24 hours a day.
Shell fuel pumps accept the Hy-Vee rewards card and a rewards program is available for truckers and fleets who purchase diesel.
Corey said the restaurant is getting good reviews from truckers and locals are starting to check it out.
“A lot of these truckers are on the road Sunday night through Friday night looking for a good place to eat home-cooked food,” Corey said.
As they tried to come up with a name for the restaurant, an employee turned to the CB radio codes truckers use when talking to each other. “She was looking for trucker lingo and 10-20 is ‘What’s your position?’ ” Corey said.
For drivers in a hurry, the convenience store offers a variety of take-out meals.
Halfway up the second floor, the Mankato Travel Center has a truck driver’s lounge, which has four showers, a laundry room and a spacious, sunny area for drivers to relax and do their paperwork. .
The other half of the second floor is an entertainment area which is still under construction but will be open to the public.
A large golf simulator is being built which can be rented by the hour or used for league play. Pool tables, shuffleboard, beanbag toss games and tables will fill the venue, with people able to get food and drinks from the restaurant on the first floor.
The travel center has a full bar in the food court, both open until 11:00 p.m.
The Freybergs have a few more acres of land for future expansion into more overnight truck parking lanes.
And they plan to create a few truck stop parking lanes.
“These are a big thing in the East. Drivers call ahead and reserve a spot for a certain fee, and they have a guaranteed parking spot. Drivers have said when it’s busy they need a space, so they’re willing to pay for it,” Corey said.