McDonald’s, Love’s Travel Stop coming to Kansas Turnpike between Lawrence and Topeka

photo by: Chad Lawhorn

The McDonald's restaurant at 1309 W. Sixth St. is pictured in August 2019 after a recent remodel.

If you can find him — he dresses so inconspicuously — the Hamburglar would tell you: You never know when a Big Mac attack will strike. Soon, if it strikes you on your commute between Lawrence and Topeka, you’ll have a solution.

Indeed, the Kansas Turnpike rest stop area just west of Lawrence and east of Topeka will be home to a McDonald’s, local operators of the franchise have announced.

The rest stop, which is basically right on the Douglas County-Shawnee County line, previously had a Hardee’s, a Dunkin’, a Taco Bell and a Pizza Hut. But those restaurants have been closed for months, and curious commuters have wanted to know what’s next.

The answer is a McDonald’s is scheduled to open next week, on Sept. 19. The restaurant will have a strong Lawrence connection. Kevin and Mary Kate Dobski will be the owners and operators of the restaurant. Kevin is a son of Tom and Marilyn Dobski, the Lawrence family who has been the longtime McDonald’s operators in Lawrence and Topeka.

In its announcement, the Dobski company also said that Love’s Travel Stop has purchased the former EZ Go Service Station at the rest stop.

This is the point in the article where I normally would say if you are not familiar with McDonald’s … and then describe the menu and such. However, if that’s the case, I feel like this article is going to get long because I think I also would need to fill you in on some other things. The earth is round. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. We breathe this thing called oxygen.

Of course you know that McDonald’s is an iconic fast-food chain with burgers, fries, nuggets, shakes and even fish sandwiches. (Do you remember when the Hamburglar had an accomplice named Captain Crook? The Hamburglar tried to steal hamburgers, while Captain Crook tried to hoard Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. Ahh, the 1980s.)

So, you are familiar with the menu, but there are some details I can probably share with you about this particular restaurant. First, it will be large, with about 200 seats in its lobby. It also will operate with a double kitchen, which will allow it to serve breakfast until 11:30 a.m. each day. The restaurant also will have the “Experience of the Future” theme, meaning it will have three double-sided touchscreen self-ordering kiosks, in addition to traditional counter service.

“We are creating a comfortable and inviting dining experience for all the travelers passing through our great state of Kansas,” Kevin Dobski said in a press release.

He said the company has hired about 30 employees to staff the new turnpike location.

If you are keeping track, there is now a McDonald’s on both sides of Lawrence on the Kansas Turnpike. The rest area just east of Lawrence also is home to a McDonald’s.

“We are excited to bring another McDonald’s to the Kansas Turnpike,” Dobski said. “We cannot wait to get open.”

As for Love’s coming to the turnpike, that is potentially big news as well. If you are not familiar with the chain, it is based in Oklahoma City and has become one of the largest truck stop and travel store companies in the country.

However, it hasn’t yet saturated the Kansas market. But perhaps this is a sign that is changing. The company currently has a store north of Topeka on U.S. Highway 75 and it has one in Ottawa along U.S. Interstate 35. Those are the two closest locations to Lawrence.

In addition to the gasoline and diesel fuel services it offers, the company has its own food and beverage offerings, and also sells a line of electronic products geared toward truck drivers and other motorists who need everything from phone chargers to headsets. Some of the locations are full-on truck stops featuring shower facilities and service stations that repair tires, change oil and provide other maintenance for the big tractor-trailer vehicles. Not every Love’s offers those services, so I’m unsure whether this turnpike location will be one of the company’s “truck care” locations.


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