Five Questions with Larry Potter from Blue Line Travel Center
Worthington establishment opened in 1999
Q: How long has the Blue Line Travel Center been around?
A: We opened Jan. 1, 1999. It had been just empty farmland. I was in the restaurant business in the cities — Minneapolis — and was looking for a place. I was driving by here taking my kids out to the Black Hills, and I got to this corner and couldn’t believe there was nothing here.
On the way back, I went around town and got a realtor’s name off the sign. … She contacted the people that owned the property, and it was right during that depression in 1987. They were willing to sell not the corner, but the whole farm.
Q: There was that much of a gap in time between buying the property and opening the Blue Line?
A: The four-lane was supposed to come through in 1988 or 1989, but the state ran out of money. The four-leane was postponed until 1998 ... so we had 10 years to plan what we were going to do here. In that time, we came up with a plan and we built here. BP Amoco was really helpful to us.
Q: What’s all out here at the Blue Line?
A: We’ve got a truck scale, a convenience store, a restaurant and a deli area. We have parking for 60 trucks. Occasionally, if the weather’s really bad, they’re allowed to park on the road, too.
In the restaurant, about 55% of what we sell here is breakfast, and that's 24 hours a day. We’ve got good hamburgers, breakfast with good hash browns, hot beef sandwiches, hotdish — it’s good food.
Q: What changes have been made over the years?
A: Everything has been redone. When the doors swing open as many times as doors swing open here, you’ve got to do updates.
The restaurant has been redone twice, there’s new furniture and we changed the ceiling this year. Every piece of equipment in the place has been redone or been replaced.
We’ve also redone half of the parking lot (this year), and we’re hopefully going to finish that next summer.
Q: How many people work here?
A: We have about 50 people, plus or minus a little bit. I think there are six employees that have been here since Day One.
We went through this PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) thing earlier this year, and everyone who wanted to stay got paid whether they worked or not. Hopefully, we get another PPP from the federal government.