AVENEL’S AP­PEAL

The Cal­tex Avenel road­house on the Hume High­way in Vic­to­ria at­tracts cus­tomers from all walks of life. But it’s the reg­u­lar truck driv­ers who are well catered for. drops by for a cof­fee

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver - Greg Bush

THE HUME High­way north of Mel­bourne is dot­ted with ser­vice sta­tions, many of which are able to cope with trucks of all shapes and sizes. How­ever, the Cal­tex Road­house at Avenel has one at­trac­tion that sets it apart from the com­pe­ti­tion – the food.

Ac­cord­ing to the restau­rant’s as­sis­tant man­ager San­deepa Mula, truck driv­ers keep com­ing back for the meals on of­fer and the barista style cof­fee. And that’s any time, day or night.

“It is 24 hours and they can or­der any meal, any time,” San­deepa says. “If they come in at mid­night, 2 o’clock, no is­sues.”

Al­though there is no des­ig­nated truck­ies room, the restau­rant eat­ing area is large with two sep­a­rate din­ing rooms. The one fur­thest from the high­way is adorned with truck mu­rals and a large tele­vi­sion on the wall.

“We have the best food, best barista cof­fee and we have dif­fer­ent types of sweets and desserts,” San­deepa says. “You can sit down and re­lax.”

What is es­pe­cially at­trac­tive for driv­ers is the $20 truck deal, which con­sists of soup, a main meal, cof­fee and dessert.

“They can have spe­cials, steaks, burg­ers, chicken par­mas, chicken schnitzels,” San­deepa con­tin­ues. “And all the meals come with chips and sal­ads, or veg­eta­bles, or they can have rice as well.”

Even more ap­peal­ing is the loy­alty card. For ev­ery 10 meals bought, truck driv­ers re­ceive an 11th meal free of charge.

“We do have a lot of reg­u­lar truck­ies, and they love our food,” she says. “And all our cooks are very ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Typ­i­cally, the truck­ies’ favourite are the steaks – T-bone, scotch fil­let, porter­house and the oc­ca­sional rump.

San­deepa ex­plains that meals take no longer than 15 min­utes to pre­pare.

How­ever, she says it’s not un­com­mon for driv­ers who are pushed for time to phone ahead and or­der their food.

“Some come in, or­der the food, take a shower, and by the time they come back the food is ready. It’s not like you’re wait­ing for so long,” she says.

The shower fa­cil­i­ties are lo­cated be­tween the restau­rant and the Cal­tex Star Mart, which are sep­a­rate busi­nesses.

The restau­rant side is op­er­ated by Nuv Pe­tro­leum, which runs more than 20 ser­vice sta­tions and road­houses in Aus­tralia, most un­der the Cal­tex ban­ner.

Ac­cordng to San­deepa, most are truck stops where Nuv Pe­tro­leum op­er­ates both fuel and restau­rant out­lets.

Owner//Driver also caught up with Jawad Bukhari, who was be­hind the Cal­tex counter.

He says with the large park­ing area out back, it’s usual for truck driv­ers to park up and sleep overnight. And with the easy ac­cess from the Hume, the site at­tracts cus­tomers trav­el­ling both di­rec­tions.

At only 90 min­utes or so from Mel­bourne’s CBD, the Cal­tex Avenel is well si­t­u­ated for those driv­ers en route to Syd­ney, or for those head­ing south to load and un­load.

Jawad Bukhari be­hind the Star Mart counter

Am­ple park­ing out the back

San­deepa Mula says the road­house es­pe­cially caters for truck driv­ers

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