FORT PIERCE, Fla. — It seems to be what everyone is talking about — the possibility of a Buc-ee's in Fort Pierce.
If it ever comes, it will be built near Interstate 95 and Indrio Road, making it the fourth Buc-ee's location in Florida.
Benjamin Balcer, the director of St. Lucie County's Planning and Development Services, told WPTV on Tuesday that the pre-application proposal for a "travel center/fueling station" was discussed in late July.
Although those submitting the request didn't specify whether it was for a Buc-ee's, based on the size of the project and the writing on the concept plan's bottom right corner that reads "Buc-ee's – Fort Pierce, FL," Balcer said it's safe to say that's what it's intended to be.
The Sunshine State, however, isn't the only place Buc-ee's has extended its reach. Since its launch in 1982, the chain now has dozens of locations in Texas and has expanded to at least five other states, even reaching as far north as South Carolina; bringing with it a devout following.
From Buc-ee-themed hats to t-shirts, party supplies and pool floaties with the famed beaver face plastered on it, it seems people can't get enough of the chain and its iconic mascot.
"I love Buc-ee's," Alexia Gilliam said. "I've driven to Alabama from Texas just to go to Buc-ee's," she added, chuckling. "Yeah. I've done that."
"It's better than Disney to me," Quintin Chong said.
"One of my friends just had a birthday party and it was Buc-ee's themed," Rehannon Miller added.
So what's the hype behind the mega gas station chain? WPTV asked around to find out.
"Really good beef jerky, and they have really, really good barbecue pulled pork sandwiches," Gilliam said. "I get extra pickles. That's the secret."
"I don't eat gas station food, but it was actually really good," Chong added.
"All the things they have!" Miller said.
Nicholas Pell, CEO of Gas Station Management, helps fuel stations across Florida attract customers. Pell said Buc-ee's success comes from all of the above.
"The shift in the gas station industry has combined a QSR, or quick serve restaurant-style dining with the traditional convenience store — a one-stop-shop experience," Pell said. "[Buc-ee's] kind of takes it to the next level where, you know, it's a dizzying effect when you walk into a Buc-ee's, and that's part of why they have such a cult following."
Pell said many gas stations now follow that one-stop-shop model but said Buc-ee's award-winning bathrooms flush out the competition.
"It's a fact that the cleaner the bathrooms, the more people will stop," Pell said.
Get paid $1,000 to become 'Buc-ee's Bud-ee'
"The bathrooms were super-clean," Chong added. "I've never seen a bathroom that clean before."
Pell also said the chain's iconic smiling beaver mascot advertises for itself.
"Buc-ee the mascot is what maybe I had growing up, similar to Ronald McDonald," Pell said. "The mascot draws families in. It draws kids in."
"My kids love Buc-ee's," Gilliam said.
So, is it worth the hype to people in South Florida and on the Treasure Coast?
"It's worth the hype," Chong said.
Maybe you agree, and maybe you don't, but if the chain ever does come to Fort Pierce, I guess we'll all find out.
"Yeah, and it's a good conversation starter," Gilliam said.
Balcer told WPTV it's just a pre-application proposal, meaning that to be considered, Buc-ee's still has to make a formal application, at which point the county and its Planning and Development Services would consider the pros and cons.
So for now, no plans for a Buc-ee's location are set in stone.