BAYTOWN, TX (KTRK) --Buc-ee's was just named the best rest stop in America by Bon Appetit magazine.
From the gas pumps to the restrooms, beef jerky to Beaver Nuggets, Buc-ee's is a true Texas institution. With 35 in all, the stores are big. The ideas is even bigger and they all come from one focused and driven "beaver."
Born Arch Aplin the third, his mother started calling him "beaver" as a baby. The nickname stuck. So, when Beaver dreamed up what was to become his very first store in Lake Jackson, Texas, back in 1982, the name and the mascot were a no-brainer. The concept was based on cleanliness and good service.
The stores grew and so did their size -- from the 3,000-square-foot stop in Lake Jackson to the the 60,000-square-foot traveler's mecca in Baytown.
"It's so big, you can get everything here and the restrooms are lovely and clean," said Aplin of the Baytown location.
Buc-ee's has become a bit of Texas legend with a cult following. There are plenty of gas pumps, but none for 18-wheelers. Buc-ee's is not a truck stop. What it is, is a road-tripper's dream complete with famously clean facilities, countless bathroom stalls and gleaming counter tops.
Earning bathroom and service supplier Cintas' title of "cleanest restrooms in America" doesn't happen by accident. A full-time employee does nothing, but keep the enormous facilities immaculate.
If the bathrooms are the reason so many stop, the reasons why roadtrippers can't leave are hard to count. Endless candy aisles, signature fountain drinks, the Texas round-up barbecue and more than a dozen kind of gourmet beef jerky and fresh-made fudge. That's on top of the highly addictive Beaver Nuggets corn puff snacks and all of the Buc-ee's-themed items you can imagine.
"I frequently hear people do their Christmas shopping or birthday shopping here at Buc-ee's," said Aplin.
As for the secret to Buc-ee's success, Aplin credits his employees.
"The are the magic, the employees are happy," Aplin said.
Wages for Buc-ee's employees start at $12 an hour and quickly increase.
"By starting 45-percent above the wages being offered for similar jobs, we instantly get the most applications and have the opportunity to pick the best employees," he said.
For Beaver Aplin and his cool space, the sky is the limit. The first Buc-ee's outside of Texas is set to open in Louisiana in 2017.