Denny's Restuarant at the Flying J
I-81, Exit 323
1530 Rest Church Road
Clear Brook (Winchester), Virginia
Monday, October 11, 2010 15:15 Hours
The salad bar, dessert bar, buffet steam tables are GONE. The two TV's are still there but with the new seating configuration it's hard to see one of them. Also, they are no longer tuned to Fox News but to the Weather Channel.
All servers and kitchen staff that I met or saw had no connection to the old Country Market resturant in that same place. The wait staff did seem to have a better "bedside manner" than the staff of Country Market restuarant from that same location. Only one of the wait staff had a Southern accent and that was a very slight one. The manager that was behind the cash register when I left seemed to be a Yankee with his accent.
I found out that the Country Market staff was given the option to join Denny's (but with the same pay and benefits, I don't know) and most did stay. I told the girl that seated me that I was fiercely loyal to Country Market, liked the buffet, almost never had a wait staff problem and felt "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
I noticed the restuarant was just under half full. Out of the people there only one quarter were drivers. The rest of the diners were four wheelers or RVers. I asked what do the truckers normally order and my waiter said, "Sandwiches". Well, that's strange because a Subway franchise took over the Chinese place and the Pepperoni place and they could order a sandwich there.
Although yesterday was a pleasant day, it was not overly hot ... yet plenty of cold air was being pumped into the dining area. I think not so much due to the weather but due the management wanting turn over of customers and tables. From the time I was seated to the time I left, most of the tables around me turned over at least two times for each table.
I ordered an omlette, sweet tea, onion rings instead of hash browns and a banana split. With the tip of twenty percent, the bill came to a bit under twenty dollars. The quality of the food was okay but for that amount of money ... I think I will go next time to the ...
Golden Corral Restuarant
120 Costello Drive
Winchester, VA 22602-4306
I 81, Exit 313
There is some truck parking nearby to the Golden Corral but also what you can do if you are on a layover, take a cab there ...
204 E Piccadilly Street
Winchester, VA 22601-5007
427 North Cameron Street
Winchester, VA 22601
320 Parkway Street
Winchester, VA 22601-5146
(540) 662-2166 ‎
There is another Denny's in the area at 1601 Martinsburg Pike, Winchester, VA 22601 (I-81, Exit 317) west of the interstate and that's been there for awhile. Since that's so close to the new Denny's at the Flying J -- I don't know if the orginial location will cease operations or not. I can't imagine that Winchester being able to support two Denny's so close to each other.
The Martinsburg Pike Denny's has always been open 24 hours. I was told by the waiter and the hostess at the Flying J Denny's that they are 24/7/365. I said that the Country Market used to be like that, too but then they decided to stop operations from 12 midnight to 5 am, then that got extended from 11 pm to 6 pm. The tourist "kitsch" that used to be near the entrance of the restuarant has been eliminated. Denny's no longer swipes the driver benefits card of Flying J when paying for your meal.
The drivers lounge seems to have gone back to its old seating configuration. Just after the announcement of the merger of Pilot and Flying J, the seating was changed to make it better but now it's gone back to the old days (pre-Flying Peelot) days. There is still room but not so much seating as before due to the seats facing south to north instead of west to east.
The laundry room needs to be laundered. I felt that my clothes would become instantly dirty once they came out of the dryer. One of three top loading washing machines were broken and two of six front loading dryers were broken. All surfaces in that room were in need of a wipe down especially the sorting table. A driver had left his bags on the sorting table in the way others coming behind them trying to sort their own clothes. In the entire time I was in the laundry room, he did not come and pick them up although there were no other laundry in the washer or the dryer besides my own.
The row of multiple pay phones in their own seperate booths have been removed. The interior decorating of the drivers area has been changed to resemble a "country barn" motif. I did not think there was a problem with the decorating during the independent Flying J days. Some electronic games have been removed as have all the long distance calling card company sponsored games that operated like a slot machine. The booths (table and bench seating) near the game area have been reduced to three as to the seven tables that were there. The parking lot area has not expanded or been contracted. It's cleanliness seemed to be okay. On the other side of the building where the four wheelers enter the Denny's area, there are now three picnic tables underneath an overhang providing some shelter. One picnic table seems to be "owned" by a local vagrant who had a ratty bicycle and some luggage in his possession. One other picnic table was being squatted on by some four wheeler vagrants. These picnic tables were not there in the pre-Flying Peelot days. At the time I was there only one RV was in the lot and that was a very expensive and impressive one. Two roll on - roll off storage units were in the area where the RVs used to park. When they are removed, I guess more RVers will be at this truck stop. During the conversion of the Country Market restuarant to meet Denny's specifications, the side parking lot for four wheelers was taken over eighty percent by construction trailers and heavy machinery. That has been removed now.
The C-Store now carries Pilot brand stickers or cards on the shelves to show the cost of the product to drivers, four wheelers or RVers. The type of duffle bags that Flying J used to carry (which I liked) and other personal products for drivers have been replaced with Pilot vendor's products. The amount of overall shelving has been reduced by a third. The wireless and electronic personal equipment accessory shelves have been greatly expanded with some impressive products. The tourist tee shirts and NASCAR baseball style caps have been reduced by two thirds what used to be there during the independent Flying J days. Driver clothing has been reduced a wee bit. More floor space has been opened up from the shelves that used to be sitting on top of said floor space. The room off to the side of the C store that used to have in it the barber shop and then the insurance broker has now been taken over by CB radio items and lighting safety items. The glass front door and one side of the walls have been removed. This is right before you go into the walkway for the Professional Driver area (TV lounge, laundry, showers, drivers' bathroom.).
The restroom floor needed to be mopped. One of two soap dispensers was broken and one of two towel dispensers were out of paper. And I did see people leave the restroom without washing their hands both after using the urinals and coming from the enclosures for toilets.
The Sad Destruction of Flying J by Pilot- catering to cars
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I have made it a point to stop at the restaurants when they are open, I don't know about LaSalle,IL it wasn't open overnight, but Perrysburg, OH (Ohio Turnpike and I-280) is on it's last day and were getting low on supplies Sunday. Davenport, IA is going till election day, then it will be closed for a few weeks due to conversion.
Evansdale, IA I-380 exit 68 is installing a Cat Scale, new altogether; the restaurant isn't a Denny's, yet. Oak Creek,WI is now a Denny's, and they are putting in the Cat Scale. I haven't stopped at Lake Station, IN in a long while. I haven't stopped at South Beloit, IL in a long time, either.
Perrysburg scale hadn't been touched outside, I forgot to look behind the counter. Davenport scale was being redone.
The Flying J in DOdge City HAD a place called the Dodge City Diner... and now it will be a subway. Aside from a mexican resturant right down the street, their is no other options for drivers in Dodge City, Ks. Thing is, construction has still not started on the subway.
This move infuriated the locals that would come in for breakfast or coffee.
Thanks, Pilot (note the sarcasm).
I guess the Pilot can't leave well enough alone.
I will cause an uproar but, "Who named truckdrivers elitist?" People are people and they have to eat. Does this mean if I haul a trailer somewhere with my Pickup and drop it, I cant stop at J because my money is no good then. The only thing I would like to see is healthy food, not gease and gravy and a side cordoned of for drivers like it used to be so then they can get in and out. I never drive my pickup on the truck side unless meeting my bro or helping someone who has a big truck problem. Oh ya, a decent cup of coffee where I dont see the bottom of the cup when its full.
Each post would require City, State, Exit number from highway, then a review section.
Then we could sort according to location, freeway exits, etc.
Just a column posting would not work, as you would have to search every posting to see what was coming up around exit ## on I-## or US##.
Just a thought.
I stopped at the Flying J in Commerce, GA (I-85 Exit 147). It was pretty much a ghost town. About the only thing left for them to sell is soft drinks and fuel. They had some pizza's that looked about a week old. I am not sure where they got them. They looked like flying J pizza's, but there is no longer a kitchen on the premises. The manager said that there are rumors that this location may close in November, but she hasn't heard anything from Pilot. For those of you who are not familiar with this location, it was originally a Williams truck stop. There isn't a restaurant at that exit. If you want food then you need to go 1 exit north to the TA.
I must say, noone can kill a truck stop faster than Pilot.
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