WAGON WHEEL – The Truck Stop is not a place to get gasoline, nor is it a travel center, but it is a place where you can get fuel for the body and music for the soul. Mike Meixler, a registered investment advisor in Show Low, has flexed his entrepreneurial muscle once again capitalizing on a nationwide trend of gourmet food trucks in a unique venue. Meixler’s plan fulfills his vision of being a catalyst for mom and pop businesses who need a break to help them flourish together.

Meixler and his wife Kelley know about new ventures. In 2016 they bought the Concho golf course with the dream of transforming it into a hub for food and local agriculture. They opened The Bull Market specialty grocery store and it became a hub for the citizens of Concho. Unfortunately, the sparse population could not support it. But, they learned about the local farmers and the mom and pops who struggle to make their businesses work. Now they are offering the true entrepreneurs of America a chance to prosper.

Antique or nostalgic are the words that come to mind as you stroll around the three acre parcel in Wagon Wheel on White Mountain Road. With truck beds modified as eating tables and trailers, buses and trucks strategically placed throughout the property, no doubt you have entered an establishment which will be the topic of conversation as it morphs from week to week with different vendors offering a variety of culinary treats and products.

The “Mom and Pop Up Shop” has just been completed and is your easy access to a marketplace for vendors, artists and tiny shops.

Locally produced items from places like Dusty River in Holbrook will have their garlic and spices for sale along with other locally produced products.

Most noticeable at first glance is the Airstream trailer which has been converted into the Beerstream. The Truck Stop has a full liquor license.

You can’t miss the yellow school bus which is an eating shelter. This bus stop has in-bus dining, or you can eat on the covered deck outside with a view. The seats out of the school bus are on pick up beds for seating around the yard. Just above the bus and deck, street side, is one of the newest eating areas, the covered wagon deck which overlooks the stage.

A surplus prison bus is in the process of becoming another unusual dining space. The exterior of the bus is a themed mural painted by Jonny Antoni depicting farm to table, another of Meixler’s passions — helping the local farmer by skipping the middle man.

With the unique seating arrangements, you will have to come back many times to try them all because each is a unique work of art.

You get to choose the kind of food you want from one of the four gourmet food trucks which rent space. The trucks will change weekly based who has reserved the space. Each space comes with a 50 amp panel, eliminating the need for a generator. The way the spaces are set up, they all open in such a way that it creates a courtyard. And, again, supporting mom and pops, their fee is only pay 10 percent of what they take in.

What’s on the menu? It will depend on which food trucks are there. There will be a variety.

An old cattle truck has been turned into a stage with a special back entrance for the musicians so they can easily unload their equipment. A dance floor will be added in the near future, and there are fire pits for the chilly evenings.

A variety of bands and solos will grace the stage each night. Thursday nights belong to “Open Mic Nite with Josh Mottley,” entertainment director for The Truck Stop. Mottley has been steadily booking musicians since before they opened.

A family-oriented establishment, The Truck Stop also offers games for the kids such as Jenga, Cornhole and Sandpile. Well behaved dogs are also allowed – everywhere but on the grass which Meixler’s good friend Chris Kengla of Christopher’s Garden laid out in front of the music stage.

Normally the restrooms would not be a subject to touch on, except at The Truck Stop. You likely expected port-a-potties in a setting like this, but not so. Meixler negotiated for an old carnival trailer and had it converted into five restrooms. One is actually a handicap restroom with a ramp.

Tin fencing along the back of The Truck Stop will support free advertising for non-profits. The other fencing which adorns the business consists of old wagon wheels welded together, as is the case with the business sign.

Kelley Meixler will be in charge of the day to day operations. On her Facebook page she calls herself a “dream grower at The Truck Stop.” No doubt with all the conversation about this unique non-service station, the dreams of a number of other people will also grow.

“I wanted to do something to help the mom and pops,” said Meixler. “Their start up costs are so overwhelming that they often just give up. Big corporations do not buy from the local farmer. Many food trucks get their start by putting $10,000 on their credit card, and unfortunately there are more deaths of small businesses than start ups. I want to give people that cannot have a shop of their own a place to start.”

Meixler said he couldn’t have done all of this without the love and support of his wife Kelley and a lot of other people – too many to name. His friend Wyatt, however, was the catalyst for helping him persevere to complete the venture. “He and I together are like one and one equals three,” said Meixler.

Wyatt is a Christian musician and Sundays, when The Truck Stop is closed for regular business, Wyatt will bring in gospel groups free of charge to anyone who wants to attend.

The Truck Stop could be your next stop. It is located at 5549 W. White Mountain Blvd. Between Show Low and Lakeside in Wagon Wheel.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering entertainment and the communities of Snowflake/Taylor.

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