TravelCenters of America buys I-81 franchises

April 11, 2022

Land Line Staff


Two well-known truck stops along I-81 will no longer be franchise operations of TravelCenters of America. Now they are owned by the company.

The Westlake, Ohio-based truck stop chain has announced the purchase of TA Lexington, Va. – also known as Lee Hi Travel Plaza – and Petro Raphine, Va. – also known as White’s Travel Center.

The two truck stops are about 15 miles apart on I-81/I-64.

Both White’s Travel Center and Lee Hi Travel Plaza were sold by Bobby Berkstresser, who has been a truck stop owner for 40 years. He purchased the Lee Hi Travel Center in 1981. He purchased White’s Travel Center in 2010. He was named to the truck stop operator trade association Natso Hall of Fame in 2018.

The two truck stop locations were acquired for $45 million, according to a news release. Owning these locations should produce significantly more cash flow for TravelCenters of America, the company reported. These locations are expected in 2023 to generate about $9 million of site-level earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Lee Hi Travel Plaza

Lee Hi Travel Plaza has served drivers since 1959. There is a campground, restaurants and a truck service shop.

It is off I-81 at U.S. 11 at Exit 195.

The IHOP restaurant there opened in 2017. Before that, it was Berky’s Restaurant, which was featured on the Travel Channel in 2012 and on “Extreme Truck Stops in 2008, according to Natso.

White’s Travel Center

Petro Raphine has billed itself as “the East Coast’s largest travel center.” It is at Exit 205 from I-81. There are 725 parking spots for tractor-trailers at Petro Raphine.

The Petro Raphine site is under renovation to add 170 truck parking spaces and greatly expand existing retail space. Following the renovation, which is anticipated to be completed this summer, Petro Raphine is expected to be one of the nation’s largest travel enters based on its nearly 900 truck parking spaces, TravelCenters of America claims.

Dave and Peggy White opened White’s Travel Center in 1970 as a 76 Truck Stop.
Peggy ran the restaurant while Dave ran the truck stop operations, according to the White’s Travel Center website.

Berkstresser converted White’s from an Ambest location to a Petro location in 2011.

Berkstresser has significantly remodeled and expanded the truck stop. The travel shop was built in 2014.

In 2015, White’s opened retail space for a barber shop, a Popeye’s franchise, a Subway franchise, a Caribou Coffee franchise, and the first pharmacy in a travel center in the United States.

In 2019, a new medical facility was built on the premises and an urgent care clinic was opened. That year, Nathan’s Famous Express opened. Quaker Steak and Lube Restaurant opened in September 2020.

TravelCenters of America

TravelCenters of America Inc. is the nation’s largest publicly traded full-service travel center network. It was founded in 1972 and has over 275 locations in 44 states and Canada, principally under the TA, Petro Stopping Centers and TA Express brands. TA operates over 600 full-service and quick-service restaurants and nine proprietary brands, including Iron Skillet and Country Pride. LL

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