One Foot in the Past, and One in the Future
Larry Potter has a vision. It’s a vision that keeps changing as time marches on for his business, the Blue Line Travel Center in Worthington, Minnesota. Larry and his wife, Deb, opened the Blue Line Travel Center in 1999. “While passing through Worthington in the mid-1980’s, I remember thinking, this could be the perfect spot for a truck stop.”
The Blue Line Travel Center is a destination for travelers and locals alike. When visitors walk through the front doors after topping off their tank, they are stepping into a time capsule from the past. It’s a haven from the long road with its classic truck stop restaurant, convenience store, fresh-baked goods, and old-fashioned ice cream counter. Truck drivers can rest in the comfortable, private lounge and take a hot shower. One can’t leave without picking out a treasure for a spouse, toddler or even four-legged friend. Potter has an extensive collection of road-themed tin signs, hug-worthy children’s gifts and of course rawhide treats for Fido.
Larry and Deb’s vision for this haven is clear when he shares their story. It is to bring a great experience to their visitors and continually make improvements to keep the business viable for the future. Larry and Deb have made upgrades to the showers to ensure hot water any time of day, despite continual use. They also updated all of the lighting at the truck stop to LED to seek power efficiencies. “That update has already paid for itself and then some,” Larry commented.
One part of the business he feels is a shining star is their restaurant. “Most truck stop owners are in the fuel business and find it difficult to run a restaurant. Restaurant owners should be doing fuel. That’s the easy part. The restaurant is the hard part.”
Larry has a background in the food industry, having owned and operated a pizza place in the Twin Cities for many years. The restaurant menu features 24/7 breakfast, and outstanding homemade dishes like you get at Grandma’s house, including real mashed potatoes. “In the near future, we plan to repair our Café sign and add more freezer space,” Larry added, referring to the large sign that was destroyed in a major wind storm that passed through the area last year. “We will also be improving our parking lot as well.”
Whenever a challenge comes along, Larry and Deb look at it as an opportunity to improve. Larry shared this about his relationship with United Prairie Bank, “I’m glad we found each other. With my last bank, I was struggling to make ends meet for the business because of how my loans were structured. Ryan and Jason have been great. They worked with me to come up with financing that worked for me, and for the bank. Now, we are thriving.” Larry is referring to Jason Schutz and Ryan Weber, Market Presidents of the Worthington, Wilmont and Jackson United Prairie Bank locations.
“What makes Larry and Deb unique and successful is their attention to detail in tracking their business activities,” commented Ryan Weber. “The way they do it helps them make smart decisions for the future.” Larry hopes they continue to earn new patrons in the future, “Like our newest billboard says, see you soon!” The future looks bright for the Blue Line Travel Center, and its dedicated team and owner.