Taco John’s and Super America, together, recently celebrated its grand opening in Albertville last week with promotions, ticket drawings and a bit of fanfare with free burritos.
For franchise manager Aaron Holthaus, it was a day that he’s seen before – he’s helped launch dozens of Taco John’s stores and still owns seven locations regionwide. But he’s never had a store quite like this.
“It was a totally new approach, and we felt like this was the perfect place to do it,” Holthaus said of the new SA/TJ’s combo, located on the intersection of 60th Street and Large Avenue/Barthel Industrial. “You have such great exposure here. And people know this spot as a convenient place to stop on their way to an from work. Now, they can grab a breakfast burrito along the way.”
What makes the combination unique is the size ratio. Anyone who’s seen a convenience store/fast food mashup like this knows the restaurant usually gets the short end of the stick. There’s no seating to speak of, it’s just “grab and go.”
In this case, however, Taco John’s has seating for dozens of people, while Super America slimmed down its offerings to make the convenience store side a bit tighter, but still with most of the traditional SA offerings. That allows Taco John’s to offer its full slate of services – including a salsa/sauce bar.
“You can still grab a cup of coffee and pump your gas and head on out. That’s what we were hoping for,” Holthaus said. “It’s my first business relationship with Super America, and they were really great to work with. They made a lot of adjustments to make this work, and it’s still a work in progress, but it’s going great so far.”
One thing Holthaus noticed, right away, was the need for “regular flow” gas nozzles on SA’s diesel pumps. Semi tractors need a “jet flow,” but that’s not something the normal diesel pickup owner is going to need.
“They’re already planning to come out and switch one of the nozzles. We let them know right away that this is an area, Albertville, where you have a lot of diesel owners. So it’s going to get switched soon,” Holthaus said. “We’re still learning. And we’re getting a lot of feedback from customers on how to make this even better.”
The SA/TJ’s was part of a revitalization along 60th Street in Albertville. Just a few months ago, four buildings, including the former Sunoco station, the old Albertville City Hall, Heritage Bank’s former home and the old pizza/noodles spot all sat empty. Now, all have new life with new owners.
“It’s exciting. I think the people we worked with at city hall were just great to keep this project moving, and to be part of that was very cool,” said Holthaus, a Monticello resident and native. “The traffic here is going to be solid for years to come, even if there’s a change in the freeway structure. And the people who own businesses along this stretch all want each other to succeed. It’s a great community to be a part of right now.”
Both businesses will be community-involved, Holthaus said. Special events will be geared – at both stores – to help community efforts, such as the new Beyond the Yellow Ribbon campaign. Plus, the stores offer solid jobs for both kids and adults in the area.
“Everyone that’s joined the team is from around here. They have relationships with the customers because they know most of them, which is fun,” Holthaus said. “It’s just been positive so far. There will be bumps in the road, we know. But we’re excited to be here.”
Taco John’s in Albertville is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. Super America is open 24 hours, seven days a week at the new location.