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.

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