TA, Petro restaurants join trend of cutting midnight hours

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 7/1/2008

Counting on a hot meal and table service 24 hours a day has become a bit more difficult for professional truck drivers in recent months.

TravelCenters of America is cutting midnight hours for 19 truck stop restaurants, and 25 restaurants total among TA and Petro currently have limited midnight hours of operation.

TA began cutting hours at locations with low restaurant business in February, said Tom Liutkus, TA’s director of advertising and public relations.

“We’ve taken selected restaurants and we’ve cut back hours of operation,” Liutkus told Land Line Magazine. “There are rising costs with all the restaurants, but especially with the ones that aren’t all that busy in the wee hours of the morning.”

The restaurants with limited hours fall mostly into three categories: open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.; 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; or 6 a.m. to midnight, Liutkus said.

Three specific truck stop restaurants have limited hours at present due to refurbishing and construction, Liutkus said. Those restaurant hour changes are temporary.

Kevin Duzinski was surprised to see limited hours at Flying J and TA truck stops recently after he parked for the night.

Duzinski, a veteran driver and OOIDA member from Homer Glen, IL, is afraid the trend will worsen conditions for truckers who merely want a sit-down meal near their truck.

“They’ve been 24-hour-7 day-a-week restaurants for who knows how long,” Duzinski said.

Although TA’s Web site is “under heavy construction,” the site will have posted restaurant hours by location soon, Liutkus said.

TA has added an hour of open time at selected restaurants, Liutkus said.

“We know there have been chains that have done this already, including some independents,” Liutkus told Land Line. “I think we’re all kind of facing the same music. You have to do what you have to do.”

Officials with Flying J didn’t respond to multiple requests from Land Line for confirmation of closings, but Duzinski said that Flying J managers told him that 15 of their truck stop restaurants are now closed between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Drivers have few choices in the middle of the night, the time when many are forced to be out on the road, Duzinski said.

“Where do you eat now?” he said. “You really can’t.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

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