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For many truck drivers, there aren’t a lot of options on the road beyond fast food. However, the increase in Indian restaurants is fueling the trucking community and helping them get where they need to go.
In western Oklahoma, along the famous Route 66, hundreds of drivers flock to Truck Stop 40 at Exit 26.
“This place is right in the middle of the United States and this place is famous for our homemade Indian food,” restaurant owner Amar Singh said.
Singh’s restaurant has been around since the early 2000s. Aside from just one sign at Exit 26 along the historic Route 66, the restaurant has no advertising. Word of its existence is spread solely by word of mouth.
“I call this place a little Punjab, little India. Everything around here is Indian. We speak our own language,” Singh said.
His family took over the restaurant from the previous owners. They both come from several generations of Punjabi truckers.
“This place was always my dad’s favorite place to come by,” Singh said.
Singh said his father always made a point to stop at the restaurant when he was driving.
Singh’s restaurant is one of dozens of “Dhabas,” or Indian truck stops, that are popping up along America’s most traveled highways, according to The Washington Post.
Drivers dining at the restaurant at the time visited said they stop in for the good food.
Truckers are the backbone of the U.S., moving food, consumer goods — basically everything — from coast to coast.
Punjabi drivers make up close to 20% of the U.S. trucking industry, according to The Washington Post, and about 35% of the industry on the West Coast.
“When I was driving in 2009- 2012, I couldn’t find enough places to eat because some days I don’t eat meat. That was the biggest issue in our community, that the food outside was not available,” Raman Dhillon with the North American Punjabi Trucking Association said.
Singh said his family and other restaurant owners want to fill that void, providing fresh and healthy meals to truckers along with a place to rest and recharge for the next leg of their journey.
All the food the restaurant makes and sells is made fresh every day and is made from scratch.
Singh explained that a lot of truck drivers and non-truck drivers have been surprised to see there’s an Indian food restaurant available, especially at a truck stop in Oklahoma.
“It is the American dream,” Singh said.