Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The new E-Z Trip Travel Plaza is now open on Avenue 12 off Highway 99.
When the businesses were torn down near the State Route 99 and Avenue 12 offramp, many wondered if they would be replaced.
After many years of doubt, dirt began to turn at the beginning of 2020 and E-Z Trip Travel Plaza opened its doors a couple of weeks ago, much to the delight of travelers.
“We were looking for a good site to buy to build a new truck stop,” owner Shawn Shiralian said. “We looked everywhere. The site where we built that truck stop was one of the best sites we saw. We picked that and talked to Bobby (Khan, Madera County Economic Development Commission Executive Director). He indicated that it was really good and encouraged us to buy it. We bought it and we built it.”
Since opening, business has been steady for the former owner of the popular Klein’s Truck Stop and AM/PM Arco gas station on State Route 99 and Herndon off ramp.
“After four years, we finally have a retail site to sell,” Shiralian said. “We’ve been shut down since 2017. That place was a good place and a money-making machine. We were really sorry to give it up to high-speed rail. We tried to tell them to go around us and they didn’t want to.”
Khan made a play for Shiralian after hearing of his difficulty with Fresno County. At one time, Shiralian’s businesses were the highest tax revenue retail business for Fresno County.
“He got wiped out by high speed rail,” Khan said in an interview in August. “He couldn’t find another spot in Fresno so he came here. Klein’s Truck Stop, I could be wrong, was the highest sales tax generator for Fresno. That sales tax generation is coming to Madera. It’s going to be big.”
While Shiralian may have had difficulties dealing with Fresno County, he had nothing but compliments for Madera County.
“It was awesome to work with Madera County,” he said. “It was really great. They worked with us every step of the way. If we had any problems, we would cal and they would make phone calls to get things done for us. It really wouldn’t have been open now if it was in Fresno County. I’m grateful to have that store there. I’m grateful for the store to be open. I’m grateful that we made an investment in Madera County rather than Fresno County.”
Included in the travel plaza is everything a travel center is known for, including showers for truckers, electric car hook-ups, and recreational vehicle accommodations. Also, inside the plaza is a Subway restaurant and coming at the beginning of next year will be a Taco Bell.
Although Shiralian isn’t going to build a diner like he did at Herndon and State Route 99, he does have other plans for the area.
“It’s (the diner) kind of gone away in the travel center business,” he said. “We’re buying about five acres across the road and thinking about putting a motel there.”
With the opening of the E-Z Trip, it gives Madera County three such travel centers with Love’s and Pilot north of town and E-Z Trip the only one in the south.
“I’m happy everybody has good business and making money,” Shiralian says of the other travel centers. “We don’t look at them as a competition, but more as a friend.”
Shiralian has about 50-60 people working at the E-Z Trip and will expand to about 100 when the Taco Bell opens inside the travel center. He isn’t planning on a ribbon cutting or a grand opening.
In addition, Shiralian is also moving dirt on an AM/PM Arco gas station/convenience store at the corner of State Route 145 and Avenue 13.