Echo Park mermaid goes missing

Before: Mermaid mural in 2013. After: Mural removed

Echo Park  — Where did she go? For nearly five years customers who pulled into the United Oil gas station had been greeted by a mermaid. She floated with other underwater creatures in a mosaic mural at the front of the station.  But now, the mermaid and the rest of the mural are gone.

The mermaid made her debut when United Oil took over the station and convenience store at Sunset Boulevard and Portia Street and remodeled it with a colorful  underwater motif.  The idea was that of owner Jeff Appel, whose chain of service stations are known for taking an artistic and whimsical approach to gas station design.

The gas station mermaid in 2013.

The mermaid by the front door was inspired by Appel’s niece, Chelsea. A designer who worked with Appel said the station’s underwater theme was  “inspired by his love of the ocean.”

But last week, when Eastsider reader Robin Blackman stopped by for gas, she noticed that the gas station mermaid and the rest of the mural were gone.

A blank wall now marks the spot of the mermaid mural

When The Eastsider inquired about the fate of the mermaid, one clerk said he didn’t know. The Eastsider contacted United Oil for info but has not heard back.

There is a second mermaid inside the station, floating above the soda machines. But it’s just not same as having a mermaid smile at you while pumping gas.  Good luck to you, gas station mermaid.

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  1. That’s very sad! I never even got to see the mermaid. Could she have gone to Echo Park Lake? Or Silver Lake Reservoir? Ha Ha! Good luck to you, gas station mermaid. Perhaps the station should be tagged with that line……???

    I wonder if Jeff Appel knows that she’s gone?

  2. Oh noooo! I hope they put it back!! That is my favorite gas station in no small part because of the mermaid.

  3. Tony Wilkinson

    I got curious. Here’s what I found. I still don’t have the answer about the mermaid.

    On July 1, 2014, Ron Appel and his son Jeff Appel sold their 130-store retail gas and convenience store chain to the Fortress Investment Group. The Fortress team was headed by Joe Juliano. Mr. Juliano is the former Group President of SC Fuels, a West Coast petroleum distribution company.

    At the time of the sale, Juliano said that his investment company (a newly formed limited liability company, CF United LLC) was especially interested in developing the chain’s convenience stores. Mr. Juliano also said that they would be developing a new brand for the convenience stores. The stores operated under the house brand, We Got It!, as well as under the brands Food Mart, My Goods Market and Circle K. Perhaps the new owners wanted the exterior wall that formerly held the mermaid mural at the Echo Park location as a place to display new convenience store branding.

    The United Oil organization has been renamed United Pacific. It now claims to have 320 gas stations and convenience stores, plus another 55 fee-operated and leased locations. Joe Juliano is the President and Chief Executive Officer of United Pacific. I don’t know who currently manages the United Oil operations. It does appear that the company’s long-time General Counsel, Rhonda Wolf, still retains her position with United Oil. Ms. Wolf manages the company’s real estate holdings.

    The company’s former headquarters at 17311 South Main Street, Gardena, CA 90248 appears to be up for lease. A deserted interior is shown in one broker’s set of photographs. It appears that the company headquarters have moved to 4130 Cover Street, Long Beach, CA 90808 (310-323-3992, http://unitedpacific.com). That website is a single page that redirects to the original website (http://unitedoilco.com) for the United Oil and We Got It! brands, and to a separate website (http://mygoodsmarket.com) for the My Goods Market (MGM) brand.

    My Goods Market appears to be an upscale convenience store brand. It operates over 200 convenience stores in Washington, Oregon, California, and Colorado. The MGM headquarters is in Northern California at 7180 Koll Center Parkway – Suite 100, Pleasanton, CA 94566 (877-301-7223).

    On December 27, 2017, Fortress Investment Group LLC was purchased by Softbanc Group, the huge Japanese technology investment company, for $3.3 billion in cash. Fortress Investment Group is a diversified investment company that manages $36 billion is assets, including a strong transportation portfolio. CF United LLC, the new owner of Apro LLC doing business as United Oil (or United Pacific), is now a portfolio business of Fortress Investment Group LLC.

  4. David Rocket Rowley

    I thought the law prevents new owners from painting over old murals without the artist’s permission. The artist can sue for damages and possibly repaint the mural.
    This happened at Vermont and Kingswell in Los Feliz.
    Hope to see the Mermaid back soon!!

  5. A frightening (to me, anyway) exposition on how the other half lives. I mean the other .01%.

  6. No mermaid mosaic? No reason to pump gas there.

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