When co-owner Chauncey Taylor plunged into the task of giving the historic Johnson's Corner restaurant a new look, patrons of the more than 50-year-old joint attacked the idea of abandoning the old building and relocating.
Taylor, who owns the business with his wife, Christy Taylor, said tearing down the original building would have been heresy.
Instead, the old truck stop off of Interstate 25 underwent a two-year, $6.6 million renovation. But Chauncey Taylor says it's more than a truck stop.
"I feel like a curator of a museum," Taylor said. "After all, we don't really own this facility. It is owned by the citizens of Colorado, the locals, the truckers and travelers who pass through here and all others who have helped to keep us around for so long."
He describes it as a "travel plaza that does a little bit of fueling." Over the years, Johnson's Corner has developed a reputation all its own.
Since its opening in 1952 by founder Joe Johnson, Johnson's Corner has developed from a wayside gas station and truck stop in the middle of lonely farmland to an award-winning restaurant – along with providing other amenities for travelers.
"To the people of Colorado, Johnson's Corner has its own connotation-quality, friendly, historic and importance," Taylor said. "Johnson's Corner has managed to buck the recent trend of Wal-Marts and Lowes running the 'mom and pop' shops out of business. In a world of constant movement and change, what people often need is stability and constancy and we provide that."
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Johnson's Corner has never closed its doors, even during the its' recent two-year, $6.6 million renovation.
Aaron Johnson, a farmer from Loveland, has been a customer at Johnson's Corner since he was young. Johnson said he has remained a loyal customer to Johnson's Corner for so many years because of the welcoming environment.
"The employees treat us locals really well," Johnson said. "They know us all by name and it's nice that they know what we like so we don't always have to order. Plus the food is good."
Aside from its renowned cinnamon rolls, Johnson's Corner has also earned national recognition. In 1998 Travel and Leisure Magazine recognized Johnson's Corner for serving one of the top 10 breakfasts in the world.
In 2002 the Denver Post named Johnson's Corner the best roadside diner and in 2004 it was featured on the Food Network as one of the "Five Top Truck Stops" in the United States. Johnson's Corner was even featured in the 1995 United Artists' movie "Larger than Life," starring Bill Murray.
Along with providing food and fuel, Johnson's corner also offers several other amenities to its customers including a trucker's store, a convenience shop, a fuel station and a chapel.
While Johnson's Corner continues to be a leader for "mom and pop" shops across Colorado, there has been some talk by officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) of closing the exit to Johnson's Corner.
Calls to CDOT were not returned, but because Johnson's Corner services between 800 to 1,000 trucks each day and generates more than $75,000 a month in diesel fuel tax alone, Taylor said closing Exit 254 would create disarray for the trucking service as well as creating safety issues on I-25.
Business owners will meet at 3 p.m. today to discuss the closing of the exit and the effects in more detail.