Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SO SO CAL

The Fast Life : $10 of Iced Cappuccino on Number 8, Please

February 25, 1996|David Mermelstein

Feel like picking up some Gouda or chevre with your petrol? Perhaps some Mint Milanos with that 10/30 oil? A latte while you clean your windows? Charles Khalil, owner of the Mobil station on the corner of Westwood and Santa Monica boulevards, may have hit on the perfect L.A. combination: a gas station that is also a nouveau convenience store. All sheet metal and glass, with an imposing granite fountain in front, the two-story structure may go down in architectural history as the first example of Bauhaus cum mini-mall. Inside, gleaming marble counters set off the cash registers (so a credit card won't touch a declasse surface like Formica, one assumes). And should a pit stop prove necessary, you'll find marble in the loo as well, complete with ferns and a hand-painted mural that depicts a verdant landscape. The Madonna Inn comes to self-serve.

Khalil has owned the station since 1972. Early last year, he decided the site needed a face-lift. In place of the two-bay garage that had occupied most of the corner, he put up the mini-mart of which dreams are made. "I wanted to change the expectations of my clients," says the 47-year-old entrepreneur.

While most of the station's patrons stop in randomly, several have become denizens since its transformation in the fall. Tony Isaacs, one of the habitues, drops by three times a day, usually to grab an iced cappuccino that he tops with a dollop of frozen yogurt. He pays only for the coffee. "The staff turns the other way because I come here all the time," he says. Then there's R. Scott Penza, a "major fan" of the station. He can often be found conducting business over one of the outdoor tables that line the mart's west wall. "I christened these tables," proclaims the free-lance publicist. "Wait and see, this is going to be the way to do business in the '90s."

Still, there are those who seem oblivious to the station's charms. Warren Cukor insists that "price is the main reason" he gives Khalil his business. David Shu likes the station's luxuries, but he's quick to point out that it doesn't fulfill every need. How much better can you do than a granite fountain that pays homage to Pegasus? "Well," he says, "there's a gas station in Carson that has a Taco Bell."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|