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Friday, December 19, 2014

Echo Park’s Magic Gas pulls a disappearing act

Most neighborhood gas stations are just that, places where you fill up your tank, buy a candy bar or Lotto ticket and then go on your way. But not Echo Fuels, aka Magic Gas, the Echo Park gas station that has been in recent years a more consistent source of intrigue, drama and ownership changes than regular unleaded. The most recent chapter in the Magic Gas saga began on Thursday night when police arrived at the station at the corner of Echo Park and Morton avenues as a small bulldozer was being used to rip out the pumps, according to residents. The police left and soon the pumps were gone. By Friday morning all that was left were holes in the ground where the pumps stood and a ribbon of yellow “CAUTION CUIDADO” tape. Inside, Echo Fuels, which had been long known as Magic Gas until it changed hands only about six months ago, looked like it had been ransacked.

It’s not clear what happened to the station, leaving many to wonder why the gas station can’t seem to attract stable, longtime owners. “I don’t get it,” said one man today as he walked by the abandoned station. “It’s such a perfect corner.”

What’s next for Magic Gas? A 24-hour  7-Eleven with pumps topped by TVs? A veggie diesel, vegan drive-thru? Stay tuned.

* Correction: A previous version of this story said the station was called Magic Fuels. That’s wrong. The correct name was Echo Fuels. (Though it was briefly called Magic Fuel by a previous owner)



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45 comments

  1. That’s a statement

  2. That’s kind of strange. Has anyone heard about when to expect the new station over by Little Joy to open?

    • Is that what’s going in next to Little Joy? I’ve been wondering what that was gonna turn into! Another missed retail opportunity in EP!!!

  3. As one who bought a “new” (meaning certified used) car, and right after that took it to Magic Gas to fill it up, and then, afterwards, got mileage WAY below that which I was promised – I think Magic Gas might know. Took car to dealer after a while, was told that, not only did I have contaminated gas which would not let the car get maximum mileage, but because putting in the contaminated gas occurred on my watch, I would have to pay quite a bit to restore my car to good working order.
    Anyone else had such problems? The gas in your car should be clear. If it’s yellow or brown it’s contaminated.

  4. Been filling up there for years and never had a problem. I saw the police including a helicopter over there on Thursday and was wondering what happened. They’ve changed hands a few times but I never remember the pumps themselves being hauled away…that’s bizarre.

  5. we had credit card fraud twice in the last few months. both times it happened after shortly after filling up at magic gas. after the second time we stopped going there. all of the fraud on our cards was coming from other gas stations around LA, $100 at a time . last time it happened we had almost $4,000 charged before the credit card company noticed. magic gas was the only place we could narrow it down to . i thought we might be paranoid. but, who knows now.

    • The same thing happened to me on two different cards.

    • i had my credit card number stolen four times from the chevron on
      glendale across from auto zone. they always shopped in glendale, arizona,
      a clever way to disguise the illicit purchases. this also happened at another
      chevron on adams. this might have been the southern calif gang that was
      finally caught by the fbi, but i no longer go to either of these gas stations & always
      get a receipt now.

    • ST- I have had three of my credit cards fraudulently used in exactly the same way starting in July and 2 more in November (one was my check card). The fraudulent charges were made at various gas stations all over L.A. and even New Mexico. The credit card company said that the thieves sometimes get and hold onto your info for a while before using your cards, so it is harder to track. So, keep an eye on any other cards you may have used there. It had not occurred to me that my frauds might have started there, but now it makes sense since I primarily used that station for years.

      • The same thing happened to me today and to each of my roommates over the past couple months. The transaction was for $105 at some other gas station. The thing is, I only use my credit card in emergency situations and haven’t used it(or even had it on me for that matter) in months. Magic Gas would have been the only place I would have used it.

  6. Actually, the most recent name wasn’t Magic Fuels, it was Echo Fuels. With this last ownership things there seemed real hinky to me. The guy who worked inside took his sweet time to wait on people…he was too busy texting to take my money for gas. When you run a business like that crap is bound to happen.

  7. Maybe we can put in a VERY dense development on that site, to kind of balance out with the one across the street. I’m sure Councilman Garcetti will be more than happy to help.

    Wouldn’t that be cool!

    • Fantastic idea! They need to make sure the end of the building abuts the sidewalk to maximize density. Oh, and make sure there isn’t sufficient parking for the new sardines, let alone their family and guests!

  8. i always thought there was something shady about that place. empty shelves, no fuel for extended periods, new management every few months,… not really surprising to me.

  9. Yeah, it wasn’t run very well. They wouldn’t fill up the window cleaner basins. The guy behind the counter would keep staring at his computer for awhile after you walked in. And when you walked out — even if the door had already been open — he’d say in a commanding tone, “Close the door, please!”

  10. Maybe a coffee shop will open up in this location. (snark)
    This place was a convenient fill up. compared to the 76 or the mehgna (under construction)

    I was amused by the absolute diregard of the customer by the guy behind the counter at this place. So this is a fitting end to the place. If a mobil goes in, as long as they call it magic mobile I will be happy.

    Wise entrepreneurs should take note, and make this a rad charging station. Plug in, and walk across the street for three hours. Shit chango should just buy the place.

    • That would be great, if Chango would get some halfway decent coffee. I asked the new owner, the lady who owns the schmancy place on Beverly next to the Starbucks (Suzina I think) if they would get better coffee, particularly decaf. She said “oh, yes, we plan to do that!” Next time I went in there, same surly barrista, same lack of decaf, same disappointing lack of interest in providing decent coffee….I’ve lived across the street for 7 years now, and have probably not bought 7 coffees there, it’s so dreadfully bad!

  11. The staff/owners were always so rude. They seemed to have such contempt for their local customers. Good Riddance .

  12. Part of the problem could be that it’s just not a prime, heavy-traffic location for a gas station compared to busy Glendale Blvd. or Sunset Blvd. In turn, that might discourage legitimate gas-station operators from purchasing the business, so maybe the folks who bought it are newbies – or are using the business for money-laundering (which I’ve heard is easier to do with a gas station that with other businesses).

  13. Oops — change “that” to “than”

  14. My families Atm card got fraudulant activity after swiping it for a fill up.

  15. Now I totally have to change the directions I give people to get to my house.

    “…when you get off the freeway, go straight on Echo Park Ave, past the park, past Sunset, stay to the left past Magic Gas …” (everyone likes that last bit)

  16. The kid that ran the register must be relieved. It was such a nuisance the way people kept interrupting his internet research with their money.

    To keep my sanity I stopped following gas prices a couple years ago, but my feeling was that prices were slightly more competitive with these guys than previous owners. It appears that model may not work so well at this location. Guessing the next incarnation may reflect that. I sure do miss that owner that temporarily opened a cafe and blew Changos coffee out of the water!

  17. LERNERS newbies , LERNERS !!!!!!!

  18. I loved Magic Gas, and thought didn’t mind the new ownership at first — keeping it neighborhood friendly, but then the place started to piss me off: no gas, closed, random pumps not working, so irritating. My guess is that the place was a mafia front. But then again, I watch too many movies and cop dramas. We will see!!

  19. On another note, does anyone have any information regardin Fresh N Easy

  20. The new owners were terrible. They never fixed the leak in the roof, just left a mop bucket to collect the drops. Ceiling tiles molded and falling down. Pumps were always breaking down or they ran out of gas. Went in once to try to get change for a dollar to use at their air pump, but all I got from the guy behind the counter was “Sorry, we don’t have change and can you close the door on your way out”. Loved Magic Gas, HATED Echo Fuels.

  21. Good riddance. But I will miss competitively priced gas within arms reach. Got into the strangest argument last week with the kid who “worked” there. He balked at turning the correct pump on because he had already turned on a different pump for me, and he boorishly and lengthily insisted that I did indeed say 4, and not 5. It was the last straw for me in a string of sullen and sulky interactions with him. I ranted like a crazy person about customer service etc. Kind of embarrassing, but cathartic.

  22. I can’t wait for the Starbucks to open at this location, who needs something practical like gas, what EP needs is more overpriced coffee.

  23. A pocket park or a dog park would be cool, too bad the city’s broke.

    • city just approved of 47 city parks built on foreclosed land acquired by the city. locals should organize and see if that could happen there.

      • Problem with that is that the intersection there is one of the most dangerous ones for pedestrians in the neighborhood. Nobody stops at the signs, and even if you are already in the crosswalk, they just go ahead and drive on through, as if you are not there. People come down the hill of Morton Avenue at breakneck speeds, and roll right on through the intersection there. I am surprised there are not more accidents there. I avoid it with my dogs, and if there were a park there, there would probably be casualties.

  24. I never had any issues there with fraudulent card activity and actually had a good report with all the employees there…. probably because i engaged them in conversation instead of angrily demanding pumps and water bins to be filled.

    I saw two of the guys who work there that night and they said they were waiting for new pumps to be installed which i initially believed. They said they cut the alarm wire by accident which is why the police and FD were there but looking at the interior shot and that they dont have any signs of putting in new pumps its now becoming ever more suspicious.

    They should bring back the middle aged asian lady who used to run it in the morning and coffee from LAMILL.

  25. Does anyone know what’s going into this space?

  26. Yesterday, as I walked past the station, I noticed that some of the missing pumps were lined up against the fence beside the building on the Echo Park Avenue side.

  27. This wasn’t, by a long shot, my first choice for filling up my car with gas, but it was extremely conveniently placed when I needed gas on the way to work in the morning. It’s kind of a bummer to see it vacated. My hope is that a brand name gas station like Mobil or Chevron will set up shop there, though this seems unlikely.

    The reports of fraudulent credit card activity associated with this place raise some eyebrows here, for sure. Wow… might have to go look over my old statements, you never know.

  28. They should open this place up 12 noon – 12 midnight. Get a booze sellers license and sell some better than average beer and cigarettes. People wouldn’t need to walk down to House of Spirits anymore and it would actually turn a profit.

    Also. Sell macarons.

  29. Steal all the gas and stfu (:

  30. I have a sneaking suspicion that Echo Fuels managment wasn’t able to afford those “new” pumps they installed soon after the ownership change. This would explain the police activity and late night antics witnessed a few months back as the pumps where being repossessed; allegedly.

  31. I used to buy gas regularly here and just found out my check card has fraudulent charges. I have no idea if they’re related of course, but this suspicious activity and shadiness make me wonder.

    I too used to wonder why their displays were so crappy in that store.. Shady indeed.

  32. Does anyone know what will happen with this space?!

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