Rick's Wagon Wheel opens at 218 Fuel Express
FLOYD, Iowa — Rick Lensing always planned to open a restaurant as a part of his 218 Fuel Express truck stop. After 10 years in business, he decided it was time to start.
Rick’s Wagon Wheel Restaurant opened Jan. 1 and business has grown since then.
"We expanded the truck park each year since we opened," Lensing said. "There should be enough room for everyone to park and eat."
The restaurant, with its warm wood paneling, has a hunting and fishing theme because those are Lensing’s hobbies. "Walter," an 8-pound walleye Lensing caught at Clear Lake, is mounted on a shelf along one wall. If you ask, Lensing will tell show you the "fish tale" his buddy wrote about that fishing trip. The mounted head of a deer Lensing shot near Calmar, as well as another deer and an elk, all done by local taxidermist Jason Parcher, and a river mural round out the decorating.
"If I have to be here all the time I may as well look at something I like," Lensing said. "We’ve had a lot of compliments on the decor."
The restaurant’s name comes in part from the big wagon wheel and chainsaw-carved bear that sit at the edge of the truck stop. Local wheelwright Charlie Greenman made the wheel and artist Pat Doyle carved the bear.
"And I’ve always been fascinated with wagon wheels," Lensing said.
Breakfast is available all day.
"We’re selling a lot of breakfasts because you can get it all the time," said day waitress Melissa Bucknell.
Breakfast selections include eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, pancakes, French toast, hashbrowns, American fries and caramel rolls.
The restaurant has several dinner offerings, ranging from fish to chicken to pasta, pork chops and steaks. Dinners come with a choice of potato, garlic bread or a wheat roll plus a salad or vegetable.
There are 15 sandwich selections, which come with French fries or soup of the day. A variety of pizzas are available and children can order from the Little Wheeler’s Menu.
Lensing proudly points out that he incorporated his three children into the menu — Cassy’s Canadian Walleye, Cody’s Cod Loin and Sammy’s Chipped Beef over Texas Toast.
The restaurant seats 45, but Lensing has ordered more tables and chairs.
"We fill this place up for breakfast, lunch and dinner," he said.
Rick’s Wagon Wheel has 11 employees.
Lensing has been surprised at the number of to-go orders they receive. People call in orders on their cell phones.
"The truckers have been asking me to build a restaurant since we opened," Lensing said. "We sell diesel, have showers and a lot of truck parts. We have 40 to 45 semis parked here most mornings."
The truck stop sells BP gas and offers E85 fuel. The Valero ethanol plant is just down the road and it draws a steady stream of trucks.
Lensing, who graduated from Ellsworth Community College and the University of Northern Iowa, worked at a truck stop, a restaurant and a pizza joint while he was in school.
"I like to cook, and I’ve been getting the chance more and more," he said. "I made the meat loaf last night and cooked breakfast this morning. Now I’m a chef, too, besides being the garbage man, janitor and money guy."
Lensing’s favorite menu item is cheeseburgers.
— Jean Caspers-Simmet