INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A former Kmart site in Independence is being transformed into a luxury travel center that embraces the nostalgia of family road trips and the unique finds along the way.

How many travel centers do you know of that feature a barbecue carving station or a popcorn station where employees serve freshly made batches in flavors such as pizza and caramel corn? That’s Wally’s.

Founders Michael Rubenstein and Chad Wallis grew up in the St. Louis region and launched their first Wally’s location in Pontiac, Illinois, in 2020. A St. Louis-area Wally’s opened in March 2022.

When the Independence travel center opens near I-70 and Noland Road, it will mark the company’s fourth location.

It’s an ideal fit, with its highway visibility and strong traffic count, the company said. Wally’s plans to open additional Kansas City-area locations and is in discussions on potential sites, CEO Rubenstein said in a release.

The new center will be Wally’s largest yet and will eclipse 50,000 square feet. Patrons will have access to 80 fueling pumps, about 20 electric-vehicle charging stations and free in-store WiFi.

Keep reading in the Kansas City Business Journal.