I am obsessed with Sheetz. Now if you’re not from the state of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio or Pennsylvania, you probably don’t know about this glorious gas station. Let me set you straight.
But first, some necessary background information: When it comes to making pit stops at gas stations, I consider myself well-versed on this topic, at least from the non-trucking perspective. When I lived in Nashville there were no direct flights home so it was easier just to make the 7-8 hour drive back. I am convinced I stopped at every gas station on that route at least once. I honestly knew which gas stations were acceptable and even what exits to hold out for.
So you might be asking, what does an “expert” look for in an acceptable gas station?
- Location. When you have an 8 hour drive you want your stops to be as efficient as possible. The gas station should be visible off the interstate so you can get there and out in just minutes. Some gas stations trick you and you end up driving 3 miles down a country road, adding time to your trip you do not want to add.
- Ease of access. Some gas stations are simply a pain to get to, even if they’re not far from the interstate. One way entrances, needing to cross multiple lanes to enter or exit, and a limited number of fuel pumps can make the process frustrating, which is the last thing you need during an all-day road trip, which has enough stresses of its own.
Cleanliness/bathroom. Clean gas station bathrooms do exist, and believe me, they are a godsend. Some gas station bathrooms make me feel so dirty and the last thing I want to do is feel grimey when I know I still have 4 hours left sitting in the car. Clean gas stations can even make the stop a relaxing experience.
- Food and drink selection. Sometimes when you stop for gas you want to get food there as opposed to heading to a fast food restaurant down the street. Quality and variety in food choices can really help your long trip become more bearable. Sometimes I feel better making a healthy choice and I want trail mix. Sometimes I need chocolate to keep me going. Sometimes I just need the duo of chips and a glorious Coke Zero. And if I’m feeling tired they better have some of my favorite disgustingly-tasty Diet Red Bull to keep me awake!
Now Sheetz, they can’t control the location or ease of access, but they keep very clean stores. Where they really shine, however, is the food and drink selection. Starting with pre-packaged items, the variety is plentiful. Numerous drink options, such as canned coffee, bottled tea, milkshakes and most soda varieties are available. The snacks are of high quality, with items such as Cracker Jack trail mix, Emerald nuts, high end chocolate, and even bakery items.
However, this is just the preamble to their “Made to Order.” Sheetz gas stations actually have a set of touch screen kiosks where you can order anything from their wide menu to be made there on site. Sandwiches, pretzels, burritos, breakfast sandwiches, hot wings, lattes, churros, the list keeps going…the selection is crazy. You can also customize just about everything. More lettuce! No olives! 2% milk! Add guacamole, oh yes!
I never would have thought I could order a chicken wrap from a gas station and use a word other than nasty to describe it…but somehow they make good fast food. And yes, it is fast food, you’re not going to get an organic, low-carb meal, but remember, this is a gas station and the quality is still miles away from any McDonalds I’ve ever visited.
It takes a few minutes for the food to be prepared, but it’s worth it (but hey, you know it hasn’t been sitting under a heat lamp.) Besides, If you order your food first thing when you arrive, by the time you use the restroom, pick out a snack and/or purchase a drink, your food will be nearly done anyhow!
Did I mention Sheetz has a loyalty card too? If you opt into e-mails you get gas discounts. Getting e-mails might sound annoying but they’re actually infrequent and you don’t mind, because they always have a great offer. The last e-mail alerted me to the fact that I could get an appetizer half price just by swiping my Sheetz card at the checkout. Yeah, I have no issue getting those e-mails. They’ve done other offers ranging from free lemonade to BOGO Slim Jims.
Maybe you’re picky, and you don’t want to get lemonade or Slim Jims. Well lucky for you, many products qualify for buy 10 get the next one free, such as fountain drinks or sandwiches. Just swipe that Sheetz card every time.
On top of that, Sheetz has a very friendly, somewhat offbeat, company presence, which I always appreciate. They have fun with their name, offering items such as “shweetz” and “Shmuffins.” Who doesn’t want to enjoy a shmuffin?