TLO Travel Center Review: Love’s on 89th Street

Recently, the Oklahoma City Thunder selected legendary Love’s Country Stores to be their first-ever uniform-destroying sponsor. Patrick and Hayley mocked it here.

Having never been to one of these Okie-friendly fill-up destinations—I tend to prefer the historical nobility of the slightly more interesting Chickasaw Travel Stops when cruising down I-35—I thought it would be prudent and timely to check one out, so I stopped the closest Love’s convenience store to me at 845 S.E. 89th on the footsteps of Moore.

I’m not too sure if this is really the run-down neighborhood that out-of-state visitors should stop at for relief and refreshments but for a local like me, I feel that this Love’s really does capture the true Oklahoma City that most people try to hide from themselves and others.

Naturally, like most travelers on the I35 wagon train, the first thing I checked out was the bathroom:

LIke most highway truck stops, Love’s loves to market their supposedly spotless bathrooms. At first glance though, this Love’s restroom seemed far more like a downbeat 7-11 bathroom, with pissy dribbles all over the floor and seat, with stray bits of toilet paper accentuating the floor here and there. The men’s room did surprisingly smell like a lovely grove of berry-bushes in the summertime however, which was absolutely delightful considering the smell was coming from the thick urinal cakes.

I really have no comment here about the women’s restroom except that the multiple ladies, all clad in store-bought jean shorts and homemade leg tattoos, seemed to really be having a grand time in there, judging from their loud conversations and even louder laughing. I hope it wasn’t at me.

Walking around the store, I was drawn to a wall of trucker and trucker-related items, filled with such big rig novelties as tire thumpers, brake lights and far right-wing hats with popular slogans like “Don’t Tread on Me!” all of which make the perfect gift for yourself or your like-minded pals, by the way.

Sadly, most of the independent eateries in these travel stops—Love’s or otherwise—have gradually been taken over by behemoth national chains, with Subway being the culprit here. As a slightly inebriated man ordering a sandwich turned to me and asked if I was “that dude from Pawn Stars”—I’m not, by the way—I decided to forgo a Veggie Delite and instead make my way to the omnipresent roller-grill items.

With the standard Love’s fare of Roller Bites brand goods on the grill, I was eager to try their terrible-sounding new selection of Nashville Hot Chicken Rollers that was advertised everywhere from the cooking area to the door of the restroom; currently, however, the only thing available was the OKC Not-So-Spicy Special, which was a still-cooking chicken roller of no real discernible flavor.

At a $1.99 each—or two for $3.33—I picked up a set of clucking twins and a few packets of Salsa del Sol for much-needed flavor. Thirsty as well, I found some an obnoxiously tasty energy drink—in the “Blue Razz” flavor, brah—of Redline Xtreme, which is a lot like those tiny barrels of pure sugar-water that kids drink at birthday parties except, you know, the adult version at $3.99 a bottle.

Walking up the counter to pay for my goods, I found myself directly at eye-level with their ribald impulse buys, most of which was a trucker’s cocktail of appetite suppressants and erection pills, both of which I can tell you don’t really work. But, still, it added to the charmless value of the place, all of which I didn’t expect but wholly loved about this travel center.

I was reminded that the Love’s in the city—most of them, but especially on SE 89th—might be a tad different, with the travel stops on the road a bit larger and a bit more family-friendly. While they might be the Country Stores needed to gently coddle those who want a respectable-enough company to clothe their basketball team—and I’ll definitely check them out the next time I head out of town—for this location though, I got nothing but all the Love’s in the world for it.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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15 Responses

  1. They used to have a great deli, and even dabbled with a grill where employees were expressly told to drag the bun through the burger grease to make nasty greasy burgers like old man Love ate when he was a kid. Greeeheeheasy, to quote a beloved TV character.

    1. “Samsquanch”

  2. That’s truly sad.

    It’s a darn shame that QT doesn’t exist in the OKC area. None exist east of Claremore either. 🙁

    1. TIL: St. Louis, Kansas City, Charlotte, Atlanta, Des Moines are west of Claremore.

  3. If ever I’ve been inside a Love’s (and surely I have been?) I have no memory of the experience. Maybe I suppressed it?

  4. I have mixed feelings about the Love’s sponsoring the Thunder a’la NASCAR branding. I support the team as a fan but wonder just how much corporate sponsorship an NBA team really needs; however, growing up in Oklahoma I have several fond memories involving Love’s stores.

    I grew up in Enid with our backyard practically butting up to the alley behind Love’s. The only time I ever shoplifted was a purple candy lipstick from that place when I was with my bestie in 3rd grade. I also walked there to legally buy my folks so many packs of Marlboros I couldn’t even count that high. It was our place to go when we’d sneak out at night, and I ripped several pairs of jeans jumping the fence to take a shortcut. The best memory was when climbing the fence one day we saw inside the dumpster about 15-20 day old deli sandwiches that had been thrown out. After unsuccessfully trying to trick the cul de sac boys into eating them, my two friends and I took them up on the roof of my house where we joyfully threw them at passing cars. My mom was pretty confused about all the angry people banging on the door complaining about the sammich bombs coming from the back of our house. My friends’ parents thought it was hilarious. My mom shrugged off. Girls will be girls.

    Years later I worked the day shift at the Love’s in Enid my first summer home from college. Running the register and making sandwiches without washing my hands in between made the summer fly by so I could get back to school and spend all my summer money on booze and Taco Bell.

    Believe it or not I’m a functioning member of society now, even though this reads like the prologue to a life of crime and antisocial tendencies. Love’s in town are completely different from those on the highway, but they’re all a place of memories for me. Seeing the cute lil heart logo on my favorite team won’t make a damn bit of difference about where I stop for my road trip essentials of beef jerky and a cup of ice. And candy lipstick!

  5. Be advised: Snapping random pics in a Love’s Men’s room may lead to the discovery of the secondary use of the later mentioned tire buddy.

    1. I’ve often wondered what others think when Louis pulls the phone out and starts taking various snapshots of whatever place he happens to be writing about that day. It must look suspicious to other patrons and I’d be super self-conscious doing it myself, but that’s just me.

      1. As someone who does take pictures in places like you’re talking about, there’s a trick to it. Make sure the flash is off, the sound is off, don’t try to make a perfectly framed shot (you can crop it properly in a photo program after), and just act like you’re fiddling with your phone. You blend in remarkably well.

  6. Please for the love of Gawd, do not use the term “Berry Bushes” and “loves travel stop bathrooms” in the same sentence ever again!

  7. Rest rooms always nasty,and food items are expensive for slop.showers are not clean properly,same as every other truck stop.cashiers are young kids that really dont wanna work.

  8. There are nice travel stops/truck stops and convenience stores in other parts of the country, and even in Oklahoma, and while Love’s is in 41 states they aren’t any of the nice ones. Quiktrip, in Tulsa, Texas and other places are quite nice with their food being several steps up from Scrubway. OnCue, cleaner, also nicer, and a much better choice than Love’s.

    I think Love’s still lives in the 1980s when they were the “nicer” place to stop on the highway, and haven’t really examined their competitors. Their logo and advertising is still stuck back there. Perhaps they should go public and then do a serious upgrade to compete with the new competitors. However I doubt they see a problem and think everything is great, or they would have put the money they gave to the Thunder to have their logo on the uniforms into cleaning up and modernizing their stores.

    1. FormerOkie…As long as the money keeps pouring into the bank why should they want to upgrade? One thing Tom and Judy aren’t is stupid.

  9. As an employee, I totally get where people are coming from with their experiences. However, not all of the 400+ locations are the same. There are some locations that have employees that really do care about the travelers who do stop.

  10. Southside!

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