If Buc-ee's builds a location in north Louisiana, will it open the door to other stores farther south?
For years, Louisiana's neighboring southern states have added locations of Buc-ee's, the wildly popular Texas-based travel center chain.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina all have locations of the travel culture phenomenon. Several stores are scattered throughout Texas. And another location is in the works across the Louisiana state line along Interstate 10 in south Mississippi.
So when sister publication The Shreveport Times reported Buc-ee's might finally arrive in Louisiana, the news certainly raised the eyebrows of the store's faithful as the article's shares soared on social media.
For residents of south Louisiana, Ruston is a bit of a trek though. The drive up to north Louisiana from the Baton Rouge area is around four hours, but the drive from Baton Rouge to the planned location in Pass Christian, Mississippi is half that at about two hours.
Back in 2016 the Baton Rouge area reportedly was considered, but by 2017 plans had fallen through for a location in the Greens at Millerville, just off Interstate 12.
Where else could Buc-ee's build in Louisiana?
Buc-ee's locations generally appear to be found in suburban areas off of interstates, away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities.
For example, the Loxley, Alabama, location is off of Interstate 10 east of Mobile. The one in Leeds, Alabama, is east of Birmingham along Interstate 20. And the Athens, Alabama, location is west of Huntsville off of Interstate 65.
A similar pattern can be found in Calhoun, Georgia, which is along Interstate 75 northwest of Atlanta. The Warner Robins location off of Interstate 75 is south of Atlanta.
Also, travelers can find the Crossville, Tennessee, location along Interstate 40 between Nashville and Knoxville.
Following that logic, the ideal location for Louisiana may not be anywhere close to a historic area like the French Quarter in New Orleans, right next to the capitol in Baton Rouge, or even convenient to downtown Lafayette. Catering to travelers ready for a rest stop appears to be the name of the game for the chain.
That theory would open more possibilities to suburban areas like Ascension and Livingston parishes, which have interstates 10 and 12 running through its larger communities.
But of course, any discussion of southern Louisiana has to involve waterways and swamps - as well as political maneuvering like the tax incentive package and a cooperative endeavor agreement expected for the Ruston location.
Down the Mississippi River parishes toward New Orleans, available land for such a concrete footprint becomes an issue. In that case, areas north of Lake Pontchartrain along Interstate 12 near Hammond might be appealing.
Then of course, there are options in the southwestern part of the state. The Opelousas area is just north of Lafayette along Interstate 49. Then there are spots along Interstate 10 like Lake Charles, Jennings, and Crowley.