The mystery is revealed. The SW corner of Empire at Bedford, which once would have looked across the street to the mighty Ebbets Field, will become a 7-11 store, which despite its name will undoubtedly be open 7-7-7, or rather 24 hours a day like most good bodegas, of which there are nearly a dozen already in the direct vicinity, meaning it will have to be the world-class Slurpees and 16-hour slow cooked hot dogs that draw in the crowds. Or, more accurately, it will be the small number of parking places thatallow for a quick in-and-out, or Kum-n-Go as we used to say in the midwest. The parking is HUGE to winning profits, since it's so hard to park next to your favorite bodega. The Q doesn't own a car, however, and there are a small army of 24-hour places on the west side of Flatbush up to Empire, so I doubt I'll ever see the insider of the place. Still, good to know there's a Slurpee to be had if I'm in some sort of DSM-V diagnosed emergency.
I'm not terribly surprised of course. Empire has become a bit midwestern in character anyhow, sort of resembling a typical cow-town frontage road, with its fast food and self-storage and auto-parts and beloved Firestone and such. It's a shame I suppose that it couldn't be more grand, and maybe one day it will be. Ultimately I blame Phat Albert's for letting its grand old bread factory building fall into disrepair, lending the whole boulevard a sense of desperation. With no civic leadership to speak of, there's also been no effort to develop the area, meaning, as it does elsewhere in the city, a sort of lowest common denominator hodgepodge of nondescription. As I've noted here before, I've always felt that this area would be great for mid-rise affordable apartment buildings, retaining ground-floor retail of course. I mean, right near the Park and Garden! Oh well. No one asked me and I doubt they will. Check out this picture though:
On the subject of convenience stores, I was excited to see that one of the very first, some say THE first, was a joint called UToteM from the southwest U.S. They were eventually bought out by the wildly popular Circle K franchise in the early '80s. I suspect the play on an "Indian" word didn't always meet with approval. Heck, I recall eating at a Sambo's restaurant when I was a kid, and thankfully you certainly don't see THOSE anymore. Trust me, despite the offensive name, the food wasn't worth saving either.
Over the years, and in my travels, I've never ceased to be amazed by the sheer number of these git-n-go style stores and the slight variations between them. In Iowa growing up, we had a lot of the aforementioned (and cringe-worthily named) Kum n Go's, but also both Quik Trip:
Casey's General store was another. But here are some of the other popular brands of Co-sto's I've noted and, yes, purchased oversized fountain drinks from:
Anyone from metro Philly has undoubtedly sated their munchies by walking into a Wawa and muttering "Gottahava Wawa."
But Upstaters and New Englanders are just as familiar with the Stewart's logo, emblem of a shop that seems to have really hit a home run by focusing on massive portions of ice cream, even sporting their own brand. Oh, and of course hardrolled pb&j for 99 cent! The classic indeed.
And don't fret if you head south of the border! Mexico's got you covered too. It's pronounced oak-so: