TravelCenters of America Boosts Restaurant Offer With Focus on Healthy Options

Chef Maira Isabel leads the development of new items for Country Pride and Iron Skillet menus.
TA Corporate Executive Chef Maira Isabel

WESTLAKE, Ohio — TravelCenters of America Inc. (TA) tapped a new foodservice leader to guide the evolution of its full-service restaurant business.

Chef Maira Isabel now serves as the company's corporate executive chef and will focus on adding flavorful, healthy offerings at TA's Country Pride and Iron Skillet restaurants while integrating food trends and regional specialties into the menus.

Isabel previously served as a chef and on-air talent for multiple TV shows, as well as the Puerto Rico hostess of "Bizarre Foods" on the Travel Channel. She also spent time perfecting her culinary skills in Italy, France, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and Morocco.

A best-selling cookbook author, Isabel's career has spanned TV, print and online publications, including the Cooking Network, Travel Channel and Food & Beverage Magazine.

"Chef Maira's diverse background working in restaurants around the world, coupled with her sincere passion and enthusiasm, will elevate the sit-down dining experience at our travel centers," said TA's Lloyd Sanford, senior vice president, hospitality. "Every culinary decision will be focused on ensuring we deliver on our mission of returning every traveler to the road better than they came."

TA plans to continue supporting the health and well-being of all travelers through its ongoing partnership with Cleveland Clinic. Isabel's menus will offer healthy meal options that are approved by Cleveland Clinic and highlighted with a heart-healthy logo.

The company plans to expand beyond these menu offerings by working with Cleveland Clinic to identify healthy snack and grab-and-go food options in its travel stores.

The announcement comes soon after TA celebrated the opening of its new proprietary restaurant brand, Fork & Compass, with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Petro Stopping Center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The Fork & Compass concept was designed to provide a reimagined experience for professional drivers, motorists and local residents while serving as a destination spot for the community.

TA's restaurant brands also include a portfolio of IHOP Restaurants, operated by the TA Restaurant Group, through a franchise development agreement launched in fall 2019.

The company added five IHOPs as well as two Black Bear Diners in 2022, with plans to open more full-service restaurants this year.

Westlake-based TravelCenters of America Inc. is the nation's largest publicly traded full-service travel center network. Founded in 1972, its more than 18,000 team members serve guests in 281 locations in 44 states, principally under the TA, Petro Stopping Centers and TA Express brands. Offerings include diesel and gasoline fuel, truck maintenance and repair, full-service and quick-service restaurants, travel stores, and car and truck parking.

The operator has more than 600 full-service and quick-service restaurants and nine proprietary brands, including Iron Skillet and Country Pride.