Big changes are coming to the HawesWay 60 Travel Plaza after Valor Oil recently purchased the property. The current truck stop and incorporated restaurant will be a planned demolish, and Valor will build a new travel plaza featuring a HOP Shops convenience store.
The travel plaza was built in 1983 through a joint effort by Lindy and Abbie Mercer, Benjamin Hawes and Carol Mercer, and Roy and Carolyn Adams.
The property had been in the family for more than a century, dating back to the 1880s when Abbie’s grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Thompson Hawes purchased a 1,000-acre farm from her father. For six generations, the Hawes family has worked on the farm, and to date three generations still live on the land.
The travel plaza is located on the portion of the land at the northeast corner of the intersection of U.S. 60 and KY 2830. The main building on the property houses a gas station, convenience store, and diner. A smaller building is home to Bo’s Smoke Shop.
The property had been owned by the family members acting collectively as HawesWay Inc., though the company has no employees involved in the day-to-day operations. For nearly 20 years starting in the mid-2000s, the Emmick family had operated the truck plaza.
In 2016, Gary and Josh Emmick took over management of the property. Valor, whose president is Josh Emmick, officially completed the purchase of the property on July 17, 2023.
“Valor Oil and the Emmick family have already made costly improvements over these last 6 years while under lease and now they can make it truly exceptional,” Hawesway Inc. said in a statement. “It is with sincere gratitude that Valor Oil (the Emmick family) is the new owner of the HawesWay 60 Travel Plaza.”
This is not the first time Valor has had a hand in store operations.
“We operated convenience stores in Kentucky from the early 1990s until 2006 under the name Jumpin’ Jacks. We made a strategic decision at that time to exit the store operations division and grow our fuel distributorship,” Emmick said.
He said he had no intentions of getting back into operating stores until 2018 when Valor purchased a multi-divisional company in Florence, Kentucky.
“We honestly didn’t know if we would spin the stores from that acquisition off or keep them. We acquired and hired the right human capital which has allowed us to grow that division immensely,” Emmick said. “We are definitely back in the store operating business and glad to bring our services to our hometown. I hope to make Hawesway an attractive entrance for people visiting Owensboro. We hope the new site sets the standard for Owensboro guests and people passing through on the new interstate corridor.”
Emmick said the purchase of the property kicks off a strategic decision for the Owensboro-based company. In addition to building a new travel plaza from the ground up there, Valor will begin steps to operate two more travel plaza’s in the greater Owensboro area.
Over the next year and after “extensive improvements,” Valor will take over operations at the REO and the Lewisport travel plazas. Valor officials said they hope to create more than 50 jobs.
At each location, Valor will be building a HOP Shops convenience store. The HOP Shop company was created in 1966 and is owned by the Emmick family and Valor Oil.
Damon Bail, Valor’s Vice President of Retail and Marketing, said he’s happy to be part of a family-owned, growing business.
“We currently operate 13 Hop Shops convenience stores in our northern territory. Our petroleum distributorship is operated out of six bulk plants around Kentucky and South Carolina. We are licensed in all 48 lower states and ship racing fuel internationally. We are so excited to add these three locations to our portfolio. We look forward to bringing our awesome staff, Ribbiting Rewards Program, and Disco Bathrooms to these markets.”
Emmick noted that Valor could be looking for restaurants or other services that could help make the facility better for the community.
Anyone who is interested in employment opportunities can go to hopshops.com/careers/ and apply for your site of preference.