KENDALLVILLE — Ask owner Harpreet “Monte” Singh about the nearly three years its taken to develop and build the new Gallops truck stop and he simply states it’s been “an adventure.”
The project was first announced locally in January 2017 but as of Wednesday, the new castle-themed truck stop at the southwest corner of U.S. 6 and S.R. 3 is officially open for business.
But call it Phase 1, maybe, because there’s still a lot more to come.
On Wednesday afternoon, Singh, city leaders, the Kendallville Area Chamber of Commerce and local business representatives gathered to celebrate the Gallops opening with a ribbon cutting.
The travel plaza, with auto gasoline pumps up front, diesel pumps separate off the back of the property and a large interior convenience store, was officially opened.
The attached Gallops Party Store, a huge liquor store located on the west side of the complex, has actually been open since Nov. 14, but is now expected to attract even more business with the gasoline side up and running.
“All’s well that ends well,” Singh said about the opening after chatting about construction problems that set the project back from its projected opening earlier this year. “I’m hoping the community will accept us.”
Gallops operates other facilities around northern and northeast Indiana, including a similarly castle-themed store in Goshen and another proposed location in Waterloo. Singh said during his travels through Kendallville, the available land at the intersection of two highways had the right potential.
The company purchased approximately 80 acres on the corner in October 2016 and began early development on the project.
The first hurdle was working out a plan with the Noble County Surveyor’s office, which had some concerns about being located near the Aungst Ditch, a major drain that moves water from about 10 square miles including all of Kendallville and Lisbon.
Those plans were taking place about the same time the Casey’s General Store was being constructed across S.R. 3 on the southeast corner.
Construction has been a long process due to some hiccups with the build and bad weather this year, but also in part, simply, because the facility is huge.
The faux stone walls and castle turrets stand dozens of feet high. Inside the convenience store, high ceilings and a large square footage could maybe fit four normal-sized gas-station convenience stores inside.
Aside from the typical snacks and drinks, Gallops also has several shelves of merchandise including auto parts and other items geared at truckers who spend a lot of time in the cab. In the back of the shop, you’ll find a couple arcade games and some massage chairs.
The party store, too, has a huge footprint, with a large wine section, shelves of liquors and spirits and cooler after cooler after cooler of drinks. In the back, there’s also a refrigerated “beer cave” where people can grab chilled boxes of brews.
“This is huge,” Mayor Suzanne Handshoe said, repeating a word many were using as they walked around the facility. I see this spurring a lot of new activity.
“It just shows a lot more people are using U.S. 6 and S.R. 3. I see it being heavily used,” the mayor said.
While Wednesday’s was Gallops’ opening, it certainly won’t be the last opening at the center. The truck stop is a hub for multiple businesses, which should eventually include restaurants and lodging.
A lot of that is still a work-in-progress, though.
The party store is technically a separate business from the travel plaza — it’s physically segregated so that you have to step outside to go between the convenience store and liquor store — owned by Singh’s daughter, Sehar Singh.
“We have a pretty wide selection of pretty much anything you can think of,” Sehar Singh said.
Notable offerings include a wide selection of scotches, a large wine library and a big variety of craft beers, Sehar Singh said. The store plans to do some tastings on Fridays and Saturday afternoons from 4-6 p.m., which would allow people to come in and sample some unique offerings.
As for dining, Monte Singh said he’s in continuing negotiations with IHOP to locate in the facility, which would bring a new dining option to Kendallville. He said that deal is looking good “verbally,” but that all of the official work still needs to be ironed out.
The truck stop also has space for potentially a second dining establishment, although what that might be is still undetermined. Handshoe speculated that Culver’s might be a possibility, stating that she believes the community would financially support a branch of the higher-dollar burgers and frozen custard joint, which has locations in Auburn, Fort Wayne and Sturgis, Michigan.
One of the other big offerings the truck stop will have is lodging availability for truckers wanting a bed instead of their sleeper cab or for visitors coming through Kendallville.
Steve King, a low-voltage electrician and associate of the Singhs who has been working on the Gallops project, gave a tour including a look at the back of the convenience store area where there are shower facilities as well as a laundry area being set up for travelers needing to do a wash.
The second floor is still a work in progress, with part of the upper level still at the studs. King said that section of the building is being held for now in case incoming restaurants need to install things like vents that might have to go up into the second floor or higher.
But some of the upstairs space has been partially completed with drywall, electric, networking and plumbing fixtures.
King said the second floor is expected to have around 20 rooms, ranging from some small accommodations but also some larger suites. Monte Singh said his hopes is the lodging business is complete and running early in 2020.
There some other spaces, too, that are question marks at this point. King pointed out one long room that could potentially become a conference room, office space for travelers or even possibly a two-lane bowling alley.
So while alcohol, gasoline and snacks are available now, Kendallville will need to wait a little longer to see what else develops.