A few days after it was renamed Magic Fuel, the long-time service station at Echo Park and Morton avenues is back to being called Magic Gas. The new owners, Zina Mikayelyan and Art Bagousky, ordered a new sign after they realized that Magic Gas had a lot of name recognition among Echo Park residents. “I called [the sign maker] and said ‘let’s do it again,’” Mikayelyan said.
So, how did Magic Gas – which pops up in poems, homemade music videos, musical acts and, of course, blog posts – get its odd and beloved name? During the 1950s, the former Signal filling station was known as Jack’s, whose owner apparently let a car club use it as an unofficial headquarters. Resident Patty Castillo remembers it being called something like Lerner’s when she grew up here during the 1970s and 1980s. Some residents said the name Magic Gas was the idea of former owner Aramis Vartanian, who ran the station from 1986 until a few short years ago. John Borden said Aramis told him that he came up with the name while thinking about magic carpets.
“What would you put into your magic carpet? You put magic gas into it,” Aramis told Borden.
Well, I’m not sure if Borden was sniffing gas fumes when he heard that story. But, that’s all we got for now. As for the future of Magic Gas, Mikayelyan said the old service bay is being converted into a mini market with prepared foods, a combination of conventional and organic produce and more coffee. And, for those who have been wondering, Magic Gas will also once again start selling gas in the next couple of days *.
* The gasoline started flowing again over Memorial Day weekend.