I was near Eisenhower and Saline Road the other day and noticed that the A2 Gateway Shell at the corner has upgraded their Coke fountain to a tiny Freestyle designed to sit on an existing counter:
– Unlike a full-size Freestyle, this machine has both a tap to dispense the beverage AND a chute to dispense the ice
– The graphical user interface is more animated and slower than the full-size Freestyle machine
– After this was installed, the price for a 44oz drink shot up from $1.29 to $1.99
– The normal Pepsi fountain machine remains on the other side of the counter. It has like six or eight taps
South of here, at State and Ellsworth, the Speedway has completed its transformation into a Speedy Cafe, Speedway’s take on a Sheetz or Wawa type of quick-service food concept.
As with the ones I’ve visited in Dundee and Hartland (and apparently at Walt Disney World now), you order your sandwich, pizza, burger, hot dog, or wrap on a touch screen, then the Cafe crew member makes it. I’ve tried the burgers in the past and they were okay for the price and convenience factor. This time I tried a toasted steak sub sandwich. I enjoyed the bun and the peppers and lettuce were pleasantly crisp, but the steak definitely seemed prepackaged, especially when I realized it had onions already in it (I definitely didn’t request onions, but there they were).
My favorite feature of this store is that since the pizzas are made to order, they don’t have the rotating oven heating individual slices by the fountain machine, and hence you don’t get hit with the chemical-burning slice oven smell when you open the door. I haven’t taken photos inside yet because that would be super conspicuous, but trust me, it looks a lot like the ones from their website, linked above.
Now seems as good a time as any to pay tribute to Ann Arbor’s oldest Speedway location, at Carpenter and Packard. Specifically its roof.
Unlike nearly any other gas station in town, the roof of this classic Speedway station goes out of its way to protect you, the consumer, from rain and snow. Newer builds don’t have this roof.
This Speedway station even predates the wide expansion Speedway undertook in the Ann Arbor area when its parent company acquired Total Petroleum’s US convenience-store business.
Above, here’s the TOTAL station on Stadium across from the Post Office. In the photo it was transitioning from Leonard to TOTAL. In the early 2000s, Tota would exit the US market and license its trademark to a fuel retailer called Diamond Shamrock, who would eventually sell their stations in our market to Speedway, a subsidiary of Marathon based in Ohio.