Although Buc-ee’s has been around since 1982 (according to Wikipedia), I first heard of it last year at my annual favorite things Christmas party with a group of girlfriends. At the party, we each bring 3 of our favorite things, present them to the group, then have a white elephant-esque gift exchange to see who will take home the new goodies. Last year, one of my friends brought an assortment of things from Buc-ee’s. Another girlfriend quickly chimed in to exclaim she too loves Buc-ee’s. We were all intrigued!
It was described to us as a gas station meets Cracker Barrel meets restaurant. Say what?? I don’t even like to eat at a McDonald’s that’s attached to a gas station when on a road trip. I certainly never considered eating food made in an actual gas station. But my girlfriends insisted Buc-ee’s was different. One even said her family plans road trips with a stop at Buc-ee’s for lunch. Another friend said it’s really not for a pit stop, rather it’s worth a trip all on its own. Again, say what??
Fast forward a few months. We are driving to Florida and see the signs for Buc-ee’s beginning roughly 100 miles away. They literally count down the distance for you on billboards. We decided we had to stop to see what the fuss was all about. It’s directly off the exit, but nothing else is around it. It’s as if they built that exit specifically for Buc-ee’s. We round the corner and that’s when our jaws hit the floor. This is not a gas station. This is not a Cracker Barrel. This is not a restaurant…
This is Buc-ee’s!
Ginormous does not begin the describe this place. This 53,000-square-foot monster sits on 22 acres of land. There are literally 120 gas pumps selling gas for way less than any others in the area. The inside of the gas station is about the size of a Publix and they sell everything from swimsuits to freshly smoked brisket. There’s an entire deli counter dedicated to beef jerky. They have a fudge counter. There’s a deli and a bakery as well as all the other gas station staples you’d expect to find. And to top it all off, they claim to have the cleanest bathrooms (I agree).
So why would I say, “I survived!”? In a word, Buc-ee’s is overwhelming. When my husband and youngest daughter saw the parking lot, they said they did not want to go inside. After a lot of coaxing and an uplifting “let’s have an open mind” pep talk, we ventured in. And approximately 2 seconds after entering those doors, my heart was racing with anxiety. Not only is it packed, but there’s also a lot going on. There are bells being run when the fresh brisket is brought out, cashiers are yelling that they’re open, the deli counter is calling out numbers, names are being called to pick up orders, and on top of all of that, there are a lot of people that are really excited about being there and they are not containing that excitement!
Here are the pros:
- The food is actually not bad at all. It’s not “let’s go to Buc-ee’s for dinner tonight” good. But I would choose it over a fast food stop on a road trip. Our favorite was the 10-layer burrito and (surprisingly) the beef jerky.
- It’s fast. At first glance, you think you’ll be there forever. But they’ve got it figured out in a Chick-fil-A efficiency kind of way.
- The bathrooms are actually clean. Plus, speaking of efficiency, they have an attendant that yells out to let you know which stalls are free. So even if the bathroom line is out the door, you’ll only wait a minute.
- The prices are cheap! Not only is the gas cheap, but there are also several items that we were surprised by, such as the $0.89 bag of 10 lb. ice! Not everything is that cheap, but everything is fairly priced.
Here are the cons:
- I don’t like crowds in general but this is not a normal kind of crowded. It seriously made my head spin.
- The lines to get in and out of the parking lot can be long.
- Even with the cheap prices, you spend a small fortune because of all the stuff you’re suckered into buying. Why do I need 10 bags of jerky? Because they have about 50 varieties, that’s why. Ditto for every other snack item they have. Then you get the shocking total at the register.
- Did I mention the crowds? Seriously, if it wasn’t crowded, I would have very few complaints. But it’s sensory overload and I just can’t handle it.
I have to admit, even after my first overwhelming Buc-ee’s experience, I have been back 2 more times in the past 4 months. We get sucked in by the gas prices and then take a deep breath and head inside. I wouldn’t make a separate trip to visit, but if you happen to be driving by one, definitely make a stop. There are 2 in Georgia; one in Calhoun and one in Warner Robbins. If you are hitting the Florida beaches, you can find a couple on your route!
Have you been to Buc-ee’s? What do you get there?