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Fill 'er up with nostalgia

Local gas station still offers full-service pump, for now

Just off of El Camino Real, on El Monte Avenue, a family operated gas station continues to offer full-service to customers willing to pay extra for an automotive checkup and a little bit of nostalgia.

Those who pull up to pump No. 1 at El Monte Union Service, a Union 76 station located at 1010 El Monte Ave., will receive a variety of services, including a tire inspection, fluid inspection and window washing. All that, and station owner Hassan Khaziri, or perhaps his son, who serves as station manager, will refuel the car -- at a cost of about 30 cents more per gallon.

"It's pretty old school, in my opinion," Khaziri's son, Amir, said as he sat behind the station's cash register, "but people like it."

Khaziri said that people who aren't mechanically inclined especially appreciate the service. "If we see anything under the hood that needs attention, we bring it up to them," he said.

Unfortunately for Khaziri, who has run El Monte Union Service since 1993, the number of patrons taking advantage of the full service pump at his station have dwindled over the years -- especially recently, as the faltering economy has put a squeeze on people's wallets, while gas prices continue to rise.

Some days four people may pull up to pump No. 1, he said, some days nobody does. "We're at the point where we are debating whether we want to continue offering the service."

Khaziri doesn't lose money by keeping the full-service pump up and running. However, he does worry that he may lose customers during rushes, when all the self-service pumps are occupied. He is unable to change the price of the self-service station manually, and said he understands why someone would not want to pay for the extra services nor wait for another self-service pump to open.

On a recent morning, when the Voice visited El Monte Union Service, about four customers used Khaziri's five self-serve pumps, but no one requested full service.

One of those patrons, David Rassai of Los Altos, has been a regular at Khaziri's station for years. Though he never uses the full-service option, he said it would be a shame to see Khaziri give up on offering full service.

It reminds him of the good old days, he said, and besides "there will always be a few people who want to have full service."

For the time being, Khaziri has not decided one way or another. "We're open," he said.

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