An 8,000-square-foot retail space offers proprietary shirts, hats, mugs, outdoors supplies and the usual items one might find at a truck stop.
But Wally’s isn’t a truck stop. That doesn’t mean truckers aren’t welcome, but Wally’s isn’t set up to accommodate tractor-trailers.
The differentiation from truck stops is by design, according to Rubenstein.
“They have showers on site and a separate truck entrance,” he said. “The maneuverability around a truck stop can be a little daunting for the family in the minivan, going down the road. That’s who we’re targeting.”
Originally from southwest of St. Louis, Rubenstein and Wally’s Chairman Chad Wallis have driven I-55 numerous times between their home area and Chicago. They noticed a family-oriented travel center didn’t appear to be along the route.
Pontiac checked a lot of boxes regarding an initial Wally’s location, Rubenstein said.
It isn’t too close to Chicago or St. Louis. Local officials were welcoming. And it’s along Old U.S. Route 66, which passes through Rubenstein and Wallis’ hometowns.
“The mother road of U.S. highways,” Rubenstein said. “It wasn’t intentional by any means, but when it kind of came together, it really made sense and got us excited.”