Food & Drink International - Winter 2017, Volume 2 - 95
Dusty Trail Café and Steakhouse
restaurant will also offer a variety of traditional beef steaks.
"We are in a very small town and there isn't anything out
here that has such a special offering," Elizabeth Brown
explains. "We did a lot of research and received positive
feedback about offering wild game. People are very excited
about it. It's definitely unique."
The Wild West
Vintage mirrors, taxidermy décor and charcoal drawings
depicting wildlife and nature adorn the restaurant's walls.
Bartenders serve guests from a Frontier-era wagon. A double-sided fireplace keeps guests warm. Even the tables and
booths resemble an era long gone.
"It's a collection of things I've found at antique stores and
every single one tells a story," Karen Brown says. "I have
spent a lot of time and energy picking out everything from
silverware and dishes to designing the restrooms. We really
want people to feel welcome, relaxed and cozy."
When deciding what to name their new restaurant, the
Browns found inspiration in Santa-Cali-Gon - the Santa Fe,
California and Oregon trails that flourished during the country's great westward expansion by early pioneers.
"The trails back then would have been very dusty," Karen
Brown says. "That's how we got Dusty Trail. We needed a
name that would convey the theme of our restaurant."
But what tends to distinguish them from other truck stops
is their novelty gift shops. "We sell a wide variety of unique
gifts," Elizabeth Brown says. "We try to be a destination
Clothing, specialty gifts, books, jewelry, wall décor, lawn
ornaments, coolers and potholders can be found at both locations. But no matter how many times a customer visits,
each experience is likely to be different.
The gift shops change themes. On one visit, a customer may find gifts that depict farm life. On another visit, the
theme could change to the Wild West. Books are rotated
regularly and both truck stops have a toy store that sells
old-fashioned wooden toys as well as modern ones.
Visitors will also find a plethora of spiritual and religious
gifts, as well as a large selection of Wrangler t-shirts and
jeans. Being truck stops, they also feature a section called
the Man Cave that sells a variety of sports merchandise,
beer mugs and other testosterone-infused novelty items.
The Brown family has operated travel centers and other
businesses from the Midwest to the Deep South. They purchased the Oasis Travel Center in 1996.
A Trucker's Refuge
The new steakhouse is located across the street from Trail's
End truck stop. The Browns bought an existing building that
used to house another restaurant and refurbished it. The
new steakhouse is an extension of Trail's End, which has
been owned by the Brown family since 1978.
Aside from Trail's End, the Browns also own the Oasis
Travel Center in Robertsdale, Ala. For the Browns, it's not
just about the food. It's about the journey.
"It's not just about coming in and buying things," Elizabeth
Brown says. "It's also about looking around and checking
out the uniqueness of the store, stopping to smell the roses if
While Trail's End focuses more on all things western, the
Oasis' theme is transportation. It has a "Derailed Diner," a
desk in the shape of a semi-truck, customers fill their drinks
at what resembles a fuel filling station and the cashier stand
mirrors a shipwreck.
Both truck stops are popular among truckers for their
unique mix of novelty shopping, fast-food offerings and
unique surroundings. Both feature a Subway, Chester's
Chicken, Stuckey's convenience store, gas station with express lube service and a commuter lounge.
food & drink international * winter 2017 volume 2 * www.fooddrink-magazine.com