With little fanfare but the removal of yellow tape from around the gas pumps, the new RaceTrac in Royal Palm Beach opened about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Gas was $2.49 a gallon for regular and $2.75 a gallon for diesel.
The gas station and convenience store at the corner of Southern and Royal Palm Beach boulevards stirred controversy while going through the planning process. Hundreds of opponents and supporters packed Royal Palm Beach meetings to comment on the project.
One of those supporters was Vinnie Perrin of Royal Palm Beach. He arrived at RaceTrac at 5:30 Tuesday morning hoping to be one of the first people to fill up his tank. Instead, he waited patiently in the area for the store to open, then became the first person to buy a Florida Lottery ticket there.
“We fought to get this place opened up,” Perrin said. He and his wife are frequent road-trippers and rarely if ever stop at another gas station but RaceTrac. “The bathroom is always, always clean,” he said. “Not to mention the service. Always nice, always helpful.”
As Perrin purchased his Fantasy 5 ticket, Javier Bayona of Royal Palm Beach quietly cruised up to a pump in his silver Chrysler Pacifica to become the first person to buy gas at the new station.
“Every morning I pass this way,” Bayona said. “It took long. A really long time. But it’s nice having it here.”
Inside, residents perused the selection of snacks and drinks — there are 30 soft drinks available on the soda fountain, along with coffee, teas and frozen beverages.
Angie Cabrera of West Palm Beach works next to the RaceTrac at the Royal Inn. Working at the front desk, she and her co-workers have watched since June, eagerly waiting for the new station to open. She was the first from the hotel to venture over Tuesday morning.
“I wanted to see what they have, and they have empanadas,” she said, smiling as she used a pair of tongs to put two empanadas into a bag.
She sees the RaceTrac as a benefit to busy travelers who stay at the Royal Inn and need a quick breakfast. “It’s easier for them to grab something to eat, or fill up their tanks,” Cabrera said. “This is perfect here.”