Shell gas station assistant manager Gary Taylor and owner Amir Hatambeiki are revving up for a new adventure: running a 7-Eleven, as the iconic station on the corner of Clayton and Kirker Pass roads is converting its service bay into a convenience store. Pumps are open during construction which is expected to wrap up by mid-November. (Photo by Tamara Steiner)
Come November, the popular Shell station on the corner of Kirker Pass and Clayton roads will be swapping out oil cans for Big Gulps.
The station, owned by Amir and Gitti Hatambeiki since 2005, is converting its service garage into a 7-Eleven store. It’s a major change for the station that has been servicing vehicles for more than 50 years, when it was Bob Preston Shell.
The lot is the only parcel on that corner that is in Concord; the rest of the shopping center is in Clayton. “It was part of Clayton’s incorporation that the Shell station remain in Concord,” Amir Hatambeiki said.
The $1.5 million change is bittersweet for Hatambeiki, who is overseeing the construction of the convenience store with an eagle eye.
“I’m excited about the new store, but it’s sad to see the service bay close,” he said.
One of the main reasons for the change is that drivers are not using gas station mechanical services as much anymore, he said.
“With the newer cars, they don’t need service like the older cars used to,” he said, adding that many car dealerships offer free or low-cost service for new cars.
Also, many young people aren’t going into industries like car mechanics, he said. “They know they can get better money in the tech industry.”
On the plus side, he won’t have to worry about the cold winters and hot summers that invaded the service bay.
The new 7-Eleven will be “state of the art,” a 3,000 sq. ft. store, complete with fresh food. “7-Eleven is emphasizing new and healthier food, because 45 percent of its customers are millennials,” Hatambeiki said. “They want better options.”
He and assistant manager Gary Taylor will travel to Dallas for a two-week training on how to run a 7-Eleven. He will be looking to hire five or six more sales associates for three shifts, as well as assistant managers. There will be 10-12 employees in all.
There have been some surprises in the conversion, he said, such as finding oil tanks beneath the service bay from the late 1960s and early 1970s that were not regulated and had to be removed. “It added $50,000 to the cost, but what can you do? They may have had bad chemicals in them, so we had to take them out.”
So far, he says there has been a lot of positive feedback about the conversion, not least of all from his wife, Gitti. “We have two new grandchildren, so she is excited to be able to spend more time with them.”
Kiosk employee Amarsh Walaj is looking forward to the changes. “It’s exciting,” she says.
Still, there are some long-term service bay customers who will be sad to see it go. “They keep asking why, and I tell them it just makes economic sense,” Hatambeiki said.
For gas customers, the conversion will be a boon. Hatambeiki will be updating the pumps at the station to accept credit cards and smart-phone payments, something he’s been wanting to do for a while.
Hatambeiki will hold a grand opening when the 7-Eleven opens later this fall, and he will probably be the most excited customer.
“It’s been a hard process. It keeps me up at night with everything going on in my head,” he said.
But if he gets tired, he can get a 7-Eleven latte to keep him going.