CHOCTAW — Four years ago, Warren Waltz shepherded customers to safety in a cooler at Love’s Travel Stop then curled his body into the fetal position to ride out an EF4 tornado that tore off the building’s roof.
On Thursday, he welcomed customers into the rebuilt store at Interstate 40 and Choctaw Road.
“We’re very glad to be back in the community,” said Waltz, general manager of the new store.
Love’s celebrated the opening of its newest location Thursday as part of its landmark anniversary. The Oklahoma City-based chain started in 1964 when Tom and Judy Love leased an abandoned filling station in Watonga. The Oklahoma City business now has 320 locations in 39 states.
“We’re not slowing down,” co-CEO Frank Love said. “This’ll be the biggest year we’ve ever had.”
30 new stores coming
Love’s plans to build 30 new stores this year, including one in Maryland, bringing to 40 the number of states where it has a presence.
“We’re everywhere freight and people are on the interstates,” Love said.
Love said it took several years to rebuild at I-40 and Choctaw Road because the state reconfigured the interchange after the 2010 tornado.