A Look Inside: First-ever Buc-ee’s Looks Nothing Like What You’d Think

bucees in clute texas storefront

The original Buc-ee's is located at 899 Oyster Creek Dr, Clute, TX – just an hour outside of Houston. And it's a fraction of the size of its modern travel center counterparts (photo by The Riemanns/TheSmokies.com)

The original Buc-ee’s will make you look twice with its pint-sized footprint in Clute, Texas

Earlier this year, Sevierville, Tenn. officially became home to the country’s largest Buc-ee’s when it opened its doors to a 74,000-square-foot behemoth. As a Tennessean, I am fairly new to the Buc-ee’s phenomenon. Sure, my Texas relatives had been telling me the legendary tale (tail?) of the Beaver for quite some time now, but I didn’t quite grasp the scale of the operation until I saw it for myself the first time.

Buc-ee’s, for the uninitiated, are known for their larger-than-life convenience stores, clean bathrooms and plentiful gas pumps. If I were to describe the Buc-ee’s brand I’d say it’s like a gas station and an amusement park had a baby. But my recent introduction to the Buc-ee’s universe got me thinking – is this how it’s always been? How did Buc-ee’s get its start? And so, I called up those aforementioned Texan relatives, who kindly offered to drive to the first-ever Buc-ee’s in Clute, Texas for a tour of the pint-sized original store. Here’s what I learned.

The first Buc-ee’s is located about an hour outside of Houston in Clute, Texas. It’s the size of a normal gas station with just 3,000 square feet of space in size, despite the chain’s reputation for building gargantuan-sized travel centers today. Even though the store is much smaller, it still has a few of the chain’s famous snacks like Beaver Nuggets as well as clean bathrooms.

bucees in clute texas storefront
The first-ever Buc-ee’s looks like a miniaturized version of the Buc-ee’s that most of us know and love (photo by The Riemanns/TheSmokies.com)

It’s the size of a normal gas station

The original Buc-ee’s is located at 899 Oyster Creek Dr in Clute, TX – just an hour outside of Houston. When you roll up to the store you’re greeted with the same familiar happy beaver cartoon logo and uniquely styled storefront that you’d see anywhere else. But I was immediately taken aback by its scale. Turns out, the original Buc-ee’s is about the same size as your average gas station. When the original Buc-ee’s was constructed by founder Arch “Beaver” Aplin III in 1982, it was a scant 3,000 square feet. To put that into context, you could fit 24 ORIGINAL Buc-ee’s inside the world’s largest Buc-ee’s at 74,000 square feet.

8 gas pumps at bucees
There are only eight gas pumps at the original Buc-ee’s location in Clute, TX (photo by The Riemanns/TheSmokies.com)

There are only eight pumps

But here’s the little detail that really makes you stop and think, wait, am I still at a Buc-ee’s? There are only eight gas pumps. Again, for context, the current record holder for the world’s largest Buc-ee’s in Sevierville, Tenn. features 120 pumps, 22 electric vehicle stations, and a giant 250-foot car wash. I say “current” because there’s reportedly an even larger Buc-ee’s coming to Central Florida – rumored to be 80,000 square feet – in 2025.

the beverage station at the original bucees
While the traditional meat and fudge counter was missing, the coffee and fountain drink station was fully present (photo by The Riemanns/TheSmokies.com)

The inside looks like a gas station

The interior of the original Buc-ee’s looks like a normal gas station, albeit much cleaner. Gone are the endless aisles of local home goods and Buc-ee’s merch. Also notably absent – the fudge and meat counters. But I can’t say I was expecting to see those little perks given the small footprint of the store. I should also note that the bathrooms (not pictured because my cousin isn’t tacky enough to take pics inside a gas station bathroom like I am) didn’t have the full floor-to-ceiling doors you always see in the modern travel centers. However, to everyone’s relief, the coffee and fountain drink station was fully present.

a bag of beaver nuggets
Luckily, we were quick to locate the Beaver Nuggets (photo by The Riemanns/TheSmokies.com)

And they have Beaver Nuggets

Speaking of sights for sore eyes, we were also relieved to find an array of our favorite Buc-ee’s snacks like Beaver Nuggets and beef jerky. After all, there are no better-bragging rights than obtaining Beaver Nuggets at the original Buc-ee’s location. Can you really call yourself a Buc-ee’s fan if you don’t partake?

inside first ever bucees
Overall, this Buc-ee’s, like its much larger modern travel center counterparts, was clean with friendly employees (photo by The Riemanns/TheSmokies.com)

Customer service and cleanliness

As a final note, the thing that truly sets Buc-ee’s brand apart from its competitors are the cleanliness of the stores and the friendliness of their employees. Both of these, like the Beaver Nuggets and beef jerky, were fully present during our stop at the OG location.

Editor’s Note: Speaking of which – many thanks to the employees present on this particular day who let us run around and take pics like the Buc-ee’s fanatics we are. And thanks to the Buc-ee’s franchise for finally giving our Tennessee and Texas family members something we can agree on. Because of you, when on the road, we shall forevermore potty like rockstars. And Buc-ee’s, if you’re listening, I need a “potty like a rockstar” shirt. Please and thanks.

Have YOU ever been to the original Buc-ee’s? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Have a question or comment about something in this article? Contact our staff here. You may also contact our editorial team at info@thesmokies.com.

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