Busy Bee destination travel plaza is coming to Bonifay

Once a bustling truck stop town, Bonifay will soon get a reboot as a place tourists and truckers look forward to making a pit stop.

Gone are the days of service stations where an attendant would pump gas and squeegee bugs off the windshield. Today, itÂ’s about modern amenities, gourmet food and beverages, sparkling clean restrooms and a copious amount of fuel pumps. Busy Bee offers just that.

“Six thousand truck drivers in Florida don’t have a place to park overnight,” said Joe Rone, Director of Holmes County Development Commission (HCDC).

A Busy Bee travel plaza in Bonifay may alleviate the burden by up to 200 safe overnight parking spots for weary truckers. The blueprints for a destination convenience store are still in development as future owners Lucas and Elizabeth Waring wait for a land purchase to close at the end of October.

The Warings, who reside in St. Augustine, visited Bonifay to take in the rodeo festivities and to be welcomed to the community at an open house hosted by HCDC Friday.

The couple is spending $1.8 million on 11.9 acres of land in the Highway 79 Corridor to open their 15th Busy Bee convenience store. The store will be an anchor business that is expected to help attract more economic development that benefits the City of Bonifay as well as Holmes and Washington Counties.

The 2.1-miles stretch of S.R. 79 south of Interstate 10 has been primed for development with the expansion of water and sewer services so that convenience stores, motels, fast food, restaurants, shopping centers and other businesses typical to interstate interchanges can get established.

What the Warings are able to do with the land is still being determined. They plan to construct around a pond and other geography that will impact how much square footage the store will have and how many gas pumps the property can accommodate.

“It will depend on how the lot is set up,” Lucas Waring said, adding that the store will be anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 square feet with 40 to 60 fuel pumps.

As for the timeframe, Waring said the plan is to open in 2024.

“It takes us a good year to build it,” Elizabeth Waring said. Other factors include working out with the Florida Department of Transportation how traffic will flow in and out of the fuel station.

The Warings were pleased with the potential the Bonifay location offers.

“It’s a perfect draw for Busy Bee because of the acreage we needed and the visibility off of the interstate and the four-laning (of S.R. 79) all the way down to the beach,” Waring said.

The Bonifay store will be much like the sprawling location in Live Oak and will employ 100 to 120 people depending upon the storeÂ’s final size. The other quick service restaurants located in the travel plaza, such as Burger King and Starbucks, will provide additional jobs.

Waring said the starting pay at Busy Bee will be around $16 per hour like the Panama City Beach store pays.

“We want people who are going to give us 110 percent,” Waring said. “It’s hard work.”