Friday, September 30, 2011

Marion Truck Plaza Closes for Rehab Work

For the first time since the 1982 tornado the Marion Truck Plaza is closed for business. This time though the devastation is intentional as the truck stop goes through a complete overall.

I'd been hearing about this for last month but didn't think much about it. What I had been hearing was complaints from fans of the Great American/Refuge Restaurant which was slated to close and be replaced by yet another Subway (the city's fourth by last count).

There's a fan base for smorgasbord-style restaurants that cook American-style. Since the closing of the old Little Egypt Smorgasbord (where Farmers State Bank is today), the Refuge has been the only place to go in town. When you got there at the time right the food was hot and good.

The Marion Truck Plaza was originally known as Skelly's Truck Stop and dates back to the 1960s and the earliest days of Interstate 57. Back then, the restaurant was known was George's and the truck stop offered its own mechanic services.

The tornado of May 29, 1982, caused major damage to it and the Regal 8 (now Motel 6) motel across the street. Both reopened a few months later.

So far workers are digging out the tanks and the scales on the east edge of the property. There were workers on the roof taking apart the bracing for the old wrap-around which suggests they're not planning to take down the entire building and rebuild from scratch.

This is the second major change on that side of the Halfway Road/Route 13 intersection. The Amoco service station on the southwest side was demolished earlier this year. Plans to replace it with a liquor store/smoke shop combination seems to have stalled after the liquor store, Speakeasy Liquors, opened just down the road at the base of The Hill this summer.

I'll add more updates as they become available.

UPDATE: That was quick. The Marion Daily Republican ran a short brief earlier this month. According to Tom Kane's story, the owners of the truck place sold it to Pilot Travel Centers on Sept. 21

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