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Hey Travelers … Connecticut Rest Stops Offer New Experiences

Many of the formerly grungy service plazas in the state have been expanded and renovated, and new food and service franchises — even some healthy ones! — have been added.

The Darien service plaza off I-95 North. Credit: Patch File Photo
The Darien service plaza off I-95 North. Credit: Patch File Photo
If you haven't driven past one of the rest stops on I-95 South in a while, it's a good bet you'll be shocked at what you see the next time you're taking a day trip: Many of them are fabulously made over and feature new eateries and options.

Check out this release from Project Service, which runs the 23 Connecticut highway service plazas:

Connecticut’s Service Plazas are selling a lot more than gas these days; now you can eat at a delicious grilled cheese with fresh basil, get homemade mac-and-cheese to go, or buy an ESPN t-shirt. 

Project Service LLC, which is renovating and operating the state’s 23 Service Plazas, has made it a priority to include, along with their national brands, many small and start-up businesses in its new facilities. 

Some of these small businesses include Moe’s Southwest Grill, STATEMENT, Mac N’ Out, Cheeseboy®, and Applegate (formerly Good to Go Organics).

“CT Service Plazas is dedicated to supporting the small businesses that make Connecticut, and more specifically the Service Plazas, exciting and unique destinations to visit,” said Paul Landino, President and CEO of Project Service. 

“We have currently completed renovations on 12 Service Plazas. As more plazas begin to reopen we plan to continue to include the small businesses of Connecticut along with national brands.”

Cheeseboy

One of the most recent additions to the Service Plazas is Cheeseboy, America’s first quick service grilled cheese concept, which offers affordable grilled sandwiches and soups. Cheeseboy has locations at the I-95 Milford Southbound Service Plaza and the I-95 Darien Northbound and Southbound Service Plazas. 

The company got its start with market tests at small county fairs in Connecticut; their first pilot test restaurant was opened at Westfield Connecticut Post Mall in Milford, CT.  Cheeseboy sees the Services Plazas as a perfect fit because of the high-traffic locations and visibility they provide.

“Grilled cheese is a staple throughout the country,” said Michael Inwald, Founder/President of Cheeseboy®. “We have opened restaurants in many different types of locations, but we feel that the Service Plazas offer a unique opportunity to reach travelers in need of comfort.”  

Statement gift stores

Statement, a gift store with an emphasis on Connecticut-based products, is located at the I-95 Milford Northbound and Southbound Service Plazas, as well as the I-95 Darien Northbound and Southbound Service Plazas. 

Statement was started by two brothers, Peter and Robb Fertiguena, from Hamden, CT in 2012. All four of their business locations are in CT Service Plazas. They sell state themed apparel, novelty items, snacks, and travel necessities. 

Statement works with over 100 Connecticut based vendors, which include partnerships with companies such as: ESPN, WWE, LEGO®, PEZ, Wiffle® Ball, Yale, UConn, Mohegan and smaller organizations like Avery’s Beverages and Lyman Orchards. 

“We are a young company and our goal is to build our brand,” said Peter Fertiguena, co-owner of Statement USA. “We have seen customers from all over the world, and have found that the Service Plazas provide us with a mechanism to build our brand more rapidly thanks to the exposure that the highway provides.”

Moe's Southwest Grill

Moe’s Southwest Grill, a restaurant franchise that serves a wide variety of fresh, made-to-order southwest dishes, is located in I-95 Milford Southbound Service Plaza.

“We serve real food right here at the Service Plaza,” Said Jeannine McMillan, franchise owner of Moe’s Southwest Grill. “We have over 20 fresh ingredients prepared daily. Everything we make is from scratch, like our guacamole and pico de gallo. We offer a healthy, fresh alternative to travelers.”

Mac N’ Out & Applegate Kitchens

Other small businesses at the CT Service Plazas include Mac N’ Out founded by, Kate Voll and Applegate Kitchens, founded by Andrew McDonnell. Mac N’ Out is a restaurant that specializes in one of America’s favorites, macaroni and cheese. 

This quick-service mac and cheese concept came to be while four sisters experimented with creative mac and cheese dishes. Applegate Kitchens is a healthy fast food alternative that serves all-natural, all-American food.  

This quick-service restaurant started out of a hot dog cart in Central Park NYC selling better quality meats that customers could trust. Applegate Kitchens, formerly known as Good To Go Organics, partnered with Applegate, a leading brand in organic and all natural meats in the fall of 2013.

“At Applegate Kitchens our goal is to provide people with natural and organic food options. We are especially excited to be able to offer a healthy alternative to travelers at the CT Service Plazas,” said Applegate Kitchens Founder/Owner Andrew McDonnell.

Growing brands

CT Service Plazas is committed to supporting existing small businesses, as well as developing start-ups. The visibility of the highway offers a great opportunity for growing brands. The CT Service Plazas team is excited to utilize this opportunity to celebrate small business.

Twelve of 23 Service Plazas have been completely renovated and reopened. All 23 Service Plazas are open twenty-four hours a day. Each Service Plaza offers different food options; some of these options include Subway, McDonalds, and Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Each Service Plaza also features a convenience store and an ExxonMobil gas station. The plazas also have clean restrooms, free WiFi and backup power generators for use during power outages.

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