If there’s one thing gas stations are known for … it’s gas. But if there’s a second thing, it’s got to be food.
For some gas stations, food comes first. Across Northeast Mississippi, service stations are serving up the kinds of plate lunches, sweet treats and deep-fried deliciousness that give people a reason to drop in to fill up, even if their gas tanks aren’t empty.
This month, we dropped by three local gas stations that are quickly becoming, or have always been, foodie destinations.
Oxford’s 4 Corners Chevron is an unassuming eight-pump gas station at the corner of University Avenue and South Lamar Boulevard; it’s also home to arguably — or inarguably to its fans — Mississippi’s most famous chicken on a stick.
Ray Rupani has owned the convenience store, often referred to simply as “chicken on a stick,” for 12 years, although the store’s been around for far longer than that.
According to Rupani, the Oxford icon has been in business for more than 50 years, and has been serving its most famous fried food for at least three of those decades.
Some may wonder: What makes this gas station, with its deep fried kebabs, one of Oxford’s can’t-miss food spots in a city packed full of them? After all, plenty of other gas stations sell chicken on a stick, some fried with onions and potatoes.
But there’s only one 4 Corners Chevron.
“This is not just chicken on a stick,” Rupani said. “It’s a tradition in Oxford.”
One key to 4 Corners’ success, perhaps, is the fact that it serves up deep-fried deliciousness until the wee hours of the morning. Ole Miss students know that when the bars close, fresh chicken on a stick is just a short walk away.
Along with its star menu item, the gas station also serves pizza sticks, crispitos, corn dogs, egg rolls and potato logs.
Sales start ramping up on Thursday nights as college students venture out to the Square, with Friday and Saturday also being big nights. Other days, things are “pretty normal,” Rupani said.
On weekends when there are baseball or football games at the University of Mississippi, or large events in Oxford like the Double Decker Arts Festival, 4 Corners can easily sell over 1,000 orders of chicken on a stick.
Chicken on a stick has been a staple at the 4 Corners Chevron for decades, and Rupani said the staff strives to maintain the taste and service customers expect.
“My biggest thing is the customer service,” Rupani said. “I want to make sure all my customers that come here, they feel comfortable, they feel at home.”
Customers are happy, he said, unless the store is out of their favorite late-night snack.
“When we don’t have chicken on a stick, then they are mad,” he said with a laugh.
Photos by Thomas Wells