Nick Patel has spent a lot of time thinking about his perfect convenience store. Now, he is getting a chance to build it.
Patel, who owns the Expressway stores in Havelock, is watching with pride as construction of his new store takes place off U.S. 70 in front of the Hickman Hills subdivision across from Tucker Creek.
“It’s like my dream store,” said Patel, who has partnered with Wallace Poythress for the store. “It’s going to be my model store. I was able to find the right land to do it the way I wanted to do it.”
And if all goes well, he envisions similar stores in other areas of Eastern North Carolina.
“In the future, I would be looking at a couple or three locations,” he said. “Once you get one, it gives you the power to do more. But right now, I’m taking it one step at a time with this one.”
Patel said the store would be called Zip Thru. Similar to his Expressway store on Charles and East Main Street, the new location will have a drive-thru service, but the difference is that the new store will have gas, including diesel.
“It’s going to be a big store and have a drive-thru,” he said. “I always want to have a drive-thru so people can just be in and out and don’t have to go inside if they don’t want to.”
But, he said residents and drivers along U.S. 70 may just want to go inside.
“We’re going to have food, pizza and other items. We’re going to have a beer cave,” he said. “You can drive-thru or you can stop in for five minutes.”
Patel said the shell of the building is nearly complete, and the canopy for the gas pumps is now up. The gas tanks have already been installed, and soon the paving will take place. He is hopeful the store can open in June – if the weather cooperates.
“We’ll need some nice weather for about a week for the paving,” he said. “We’ve had the worst weather. As soon as we decided to start construction, the weather was bad. We’ve had to wait a couple three days to do the construction.”
Patel, a staunch opponent of the N.C. Department of Transportation East Main Street median project that he said has cut off his other two stores, said he picked the location across from Tucker Creek because it was outside of the city and away from the median.
“It is a good location,” he said, noting it will be the first place drivers come to as they enter Havelock or make their way to Cherry Point. “It’s right outside the city, and they’ll be people going to the beach who will stop.”
He also said the location would be good for residents of the Hickman Hill area as well as for those in Tucker Creek, who would no longer have to drive into Havelock and through three traffic lights to get gas.
Patel said he plans to hire about 12 full-time or part-time workers to staff the store when it opens.