Cafe Society

Founding Family Selling Johnson's Corner to TravelCenters of America

Here's how former Cafe critic Jason Sheehan remembered his first view of Colorado's iconic truck stop: "Johnson's Corner sat right off the frontage road, a dusty sprawl of parking lots and big rigs, mirrored windows reflecting the endless, flat nothing all around it. Johnson's had everything: a restaurant, general store, CB and chrome shop, attached RV park and Sunday chapel, gas pumps, long-distance phone and mail service, even a flea market in full swing just down the road where you could get anything from a bucket of Coors longnecks (five for five bucks) to a Chinese knockoff switchblade to an amethyst crystal necklace guaranteed to quell the bitter humors for less than the friction between the two ten-spots burning a hole in your wallet. It was a scene you'd expect to see in the opening credits of some big-budget Jerry Bruckheimer end-of-the-world sci-fi blockbuster, with a bunch of scrappy survivors trying to eke a living out of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, selling chicken-fried steaks and plastic dashboard Jesuses to a steady stream of mutant road folk in Mad Max leathers and hockey pads." See also: Jason Sheehan's "The Truck Stopped Here" That was almost two decades ago, and by then Johnson's Corner was already legendary: Its founder, Joe Johnson, had been entered into the 106th Congressional Record as an example of "the industrious spirit and can-do attitude that have made America great"; in 1998, Travel & Leisure cited his place as having one of the ten best breakfasts in the world, an honor at least partly earned by its amazing cinnamon rolls. But now, 64 years after Joe Johnson opened Johnson's Corner, two decades after Chauncey Taylor took operations over from his mother, and ten years after a major renovation removed much of the diner's old-school charm (but definitely added to the spot's shopping opportunities), Johnson's Corner is about to leave the family.

Now a member of Loveland City Council, which is just up the road, Taylor is selling the iconic truck stop to TravelCenters of America, the largest chain of truck stops in the country, with a tentative closing date of September 24. "From what we understand, it's still going to maintain the Johnson's Corner brand and the Johnson's Corner image," Taylor told Land Line, "the Business Magazine for Professional Truckers."

"It will have the Petro banner. It's obviously going to carry the Johnson's Corner name," Taylor added. And it will also continue to carry those cinnamon rolls, which you can also order online here.