DUNCOMBE – In just four short months, passengers traveling through Iowa on US Highway 20 will have a new place to unload their legs, fill their fuel tanks, have something to eat and recharge their caffeine.
The construction of the 10,000 square foot Marker 126 tourist center, located at 2,339 Poplar Ave. South of Duncombe, will be completed this summer, with a tentative opening date in the first week of August, owner Kevin Stumpf told The Messenger.
Following some initial rejection by some members of the local community who were dissatisfied with Stumpf’s proposal to build a travel center on the site, Webster County Board of Trustees approved his application in September to change the land from a farm protection to a general commercial.
Marker 126, named for its location near Mile 126 on U.S. Highway 20, will have a general store as well as a restaurant called Table 126 and a coffee shop called Brew 126.
“We want to offer a higher category experience and coffee is a very popular item,” said co-owner Sheila Stumpf. “It’s kind of hand in hand with travel – sometimes you need some caffeine to travel.”
The self-service brewery will still have self-service brewed coffee, she said, but the cafe will offer special espresso and coffee drinks.
The cafe and restaurant will have plenty of seating, said Kevin Stumpf.
“Above the restaurant there will be a mezzanine for the next seating and then there will be an outdoor seating at the back of the cafe,” he said.
There will also be an opportunity to reserve space on the mezzanine floor for meetings, the Stumpf family said.
The travel center will have eight gas dispensers and seven diesel dispensers.
The construction of the tourist center has made significant progress as the building’s frame and exterior have been steadily increasing in recent months. It will have a unique architecture for the area, said Sheila Stumpf.
“The structure has a kind of modern atmosphere from the middle of the century with a lot of industrial elements,” she said. “So it’s kind of a mix of two types of design.”
Sande Construction & Supply Co. is the construction contractor. Inc., Humboldt.
“They’re doing a great job,” Kevin Stumpf said.
The travel center investment is about $ 6 million, Kevin Stumpf told The Messenger.
He said he thought certain fears and resistance to the project were caused by how many were unknown.
“I think they’re worried from the beginning if we’re going to own it? Or do we sell it to KwikStar or Casey’s? Stumpf said. “I’m a farmer and I’ve never done it before, but this is my ambition. This is my child and I will be proud of it. “
Stumpf said his top priorities at the travel center were safety and cleanliness.
Stumpf said he saw a need for passengers along US Highway 20 to stop without having to drive miles to a nearby town, and that passengers and their money passed through Webster County without stopping.
“It makes sense that it’s right along the corridor (Highway 20),” he said. “They won’t want to drive up to six or seven miles when they’re on the road for hours. They want to get out and get on and go again. “
There’s not much on the highway between the Grundy Center in the east and Holstein in the west, Sheila Stumpf said.
“It’s a big dead space,” she added.
The Sparky’s One Stop, located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Iowa Highway 4 near Rockwell City in Calhoun County, burned down in November.
Marker 126 is already looking for employees. Kevin Stumpf said he estimated they would have 30 to 40 jobs. Initially, the store will be open daily from 5:00 to 23:00, but pointed out the possibility of extending opening hours if necessary and the availability of staff.