Plateau Travel Plaza prepares to open
The opening of the new Plateau Travel Plaza was pushed back a couple weeks, but that hasn't stopped truckers and others from turning off U.S. Highway 26 at Cherry Lane, to check out the soon-to-open business.
The new truck stop, located just west of Highway 26 on 10.45 acres of land that the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have owned since 1977, is now set to open Saturday, March 24.
According to Belinda Chavez, marketing director for Indian Head Casino, which is overseeing the $8.5 million project, the 13,000-square-foot facility includes full- and self-serve fueling stations for semitrucks and automobiles, a convenience store, restaurant and deli, with homestyle seating and takeout, gaming area with 30 Class II slot machines, restrooms and showers, and parking in the back for about 70 semitrucks.
"I think it's going to be beneficial for our local economy," said Chavez, adding that truckers will have a "large, secure place" to park their trucks.
"It's definitely going to add to the community," said Eric Angel, general manager of the Plateau Travel Plaza, who recently moved to Madras from Campo, California, where he managed the travel center portion of the Golden Acorn Casino and Travel Center.
Angel, who was hired by the tribes and started work Nov. 22, 2017, has been working to find and train employees for the business. So far, the tribes have hired 65-70 employees, about three-quarters of whom are tribal members.
"The big focus is going to be on training everyone," he said, "so that the day we open, the goal is to make it appear as though we've been doing this forever."
The fact that the center will be open 24 hours a day will be a tremendous benefit to truckers and other motorists, he pointed out.
"If you drive through downtown Madras, especially at night, there are (truck) drivers pulling off the side of the highway. We have the ability to have 75-80 trucks overnight," said Angel, noting that even though they're not yet open, truckers have already begun parking there overnight.
The convenience store, which accounts for about 3,000 square feet of the plaza features a checkout area with five cashiers, with one of those dedicated to diesel pumps, plus a backup cashier in the deli area for lunch hours and other busy times.
An entire aisle in the store is devoted to tools and supplies truckers might need to make a repair, or get back on the road. Diesel exhaust fluid is available at the pump, or by the jug.
"We will also have a display case for CB radios and trucker electronics," said Angel.
Another display case will eventually be used for artwork on consignment from tribal members.
Near the entrance for truckers at the back of the building, there are four public showers — one of which is ADA-accessible. Cost of showers will be $12, but $5 of that will be refunded when the key card is returned, Angel said.
Shelves and refrigerated cases are already stocked with everything but perishable items, such as milk and eggs. The self-serve beverage area is set up to serve fountain drinks, specialty coffees and tea, as well as milkshakes.
"The deli is set up to be grab and go," said Angel, who hopes to attract workers from the Madras Industrial Site.
The facility also houses the general manager's office, server room gaming commission office, an employee break room, and a security office.
"We'll have 24-hour security inside and outside," said Angel.
When the weather warms up, there will be tables and chairs for outdoor dining.
Kirby Nagelhout broke ground on the project in April 2017. "All the inspections have been finalized, and we're looking for our certificate of occupancy," said Chris Neumaier, project manager for Kirby Nagelhout. "It was an excellent project and a good team effort."
The tribes are working with the Oregon Department of Transporation to install a sign at Cherry Lane. "We have a few more things to clear up with ODOT," he said. "Right now, we're finalizing last-minute details."
The tribes are planning a grand opening on Friday, April 6, but will announce details later.