Many a SoCaler exists between three places when it comes to our architectural affections. We like the cool, zippy, new stuff. We adore the vintage, charming places that remain true to their era and character.
And we would very much like to see buildings that have sat empty for years, and sometimes decades, get a little TLC.
Or make that a lot of TLC. The Art Deco gas station at the corner of Highland and Willoughby avenues, just a pinch north of Melrose, received a good dose of the stuff from a company you may have heard of: Starbucks. The green, mermaid symbol? You know it.
The Seattle-based coffee chain took an interest in the built-in-1935 former Gilmore Gas Station back in 2013. It's a building known to many who travel Highland, and many know it has sat vacant, and at various stages of peelingness, for nearly two decades.
A multi-month restoration was ordered and the results, inside and out, can now by seen. The world's newest Starbucks opened at the retro structure on Thursday, March 26.
It's a wee building, as thousands of commuters know, but look for a drive-through and an outdoor patio space to stretch the hang-out-a-bility (yep, there's an order window). The store serves the full complement of Starbucks drinks and eats, from coffees to salads. As for the station's once-iconic neon lighting? Look for LED in its place.
As for what the gas station was between its original purpose as a Gilmore Oil location and a Starbucks? It was, for a time, a gas station for both Texaco and Mobil. And, yes, it has had its cinematic cameos: Look for it in "48 Hours" and "LA Story."
But did you know that the station's parcel of land once belonged to film star Wallace Beery? Tell that to the passengers of your car next time you're zipping to or fro between the Valley and lower Hollywood.
So best raise a Flat White to Mr. Beery's legacy, to the Gilmores (the company behind the Original Farmers Market, of course) and to reusing beautiful buildings that sat empty for far too long.