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Missouri’s first Buc-ee’s, 53,000 square feet, officially opens. Here’s what to know

Travel centers are typically pit stops on the way to a destination, but on Monday morning in Springfield, a travel center was the destination.

Buc-ee’s, the Texas-based gas station and convenience store chain known for its massive floor plans and vast food offerings, threw open the doors to its first Missouri location a little before 6 a.m., delighting hundreds of customers who’d lined up outside in the cold for an early look.

Russ Stephenson, who was wearing a tie-dye Buc-ee’s shirt he said he got at a Buc-ee’s in Georgia, and his girlfriend, Ellen Kerr, decided just after midnight to attend.

“We hadn’t done anything silly in a while,” Kerr said. “Plus, we’re old and we don’t have a life. We picked up a few ornaments for Christmas, and I’m scouting some birthday presents for a granddaughter.”

The store — 53,000 square feet, with 120 fuel pumps, and a barbecue station, a jerky bar, a fudge shop, among other food, drink and merchandise — is just off Interstate 44 at 3284 N. Beaver Road. It was formerly Mulroy Road; Buc-ee’s mascot is a beaver, and the Springfield City Council earlier this year voted to change the name of the street in tribute to the chain.

A few of those local leaders were in attendance for a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at 11 a.m., along with some Buc-ee’s brass.

“What Buc-ee’s brings is exactly what we are all about in Springfield: quality of place, economic vitality,” said Mayor Ken McClure.

Councilman Abe McGull cited the “incredible salaries” advertised in the distance on a Buc-ee’s billboard, with wages starting at $18-23 per hour. “I’m thinking of getting a part-time job here,” he joked.

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure addresses the crowd at the Buc-ee’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday
Springfield Mayor Ken McClure addresses the crowd at the Buc-ee’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday

Jodi Whittlesey and Gigi Brumfield, co-workers at a hospice care company in Lebanon, woke up at 4:30 a.m. and made the 45-minute drive to Springfield.

Brumfield, who’s from Louisiana originally, picked up a boudin kolache, saltwater taffy and the popular Buc-ee’s snack Beaver Nuggets, which are like kettle corn. Whittlesey had a blue travel mug in her basket that said “I Can’t Hear You Over the Sound of Freedom Ringing.”

“We can’t stay too long,” Whittlesey said around 6:30 a.m. “We’ve got to be back at work soon.”