In a stretch of Highland Avenue just north of the Mozza restaurants and Mud Hen Tavern, you’ll see a very cool looking Starbucks coffee shop that used to be an old Gilmore Gas Station. Recently renovated and reopened, it is quite a draw to the area. I readily admit that I prefer to spend my coffee dollars at independent coffee houses (when I’m not making a fantastic French press at home) but I was intrigued with what Starbucks has done with such a historic piece of Los Angeles history, so of course I had to take a peek. On the southwest corner of Willoughby and Highland now sits a drive-thru, walk-up window and outdoor patio seating with room for about 20 guests. It was all very exciting and busy too. Very busy.
In 1935 the Gilmore Oil company (the same Gilmore family who founded the original Farmer’s Market at Third and Fairfax in 1934) purchased this exact plot of land from a popular film star and opened a service station. For decades, it served as several big name gas stations until it all closed down in the 1990’s, fenced off and growing weeds, pretty much unnoticed by drivers in a hurry to get to nearby dining spots. Then Starbucks found the historic property two years ago and saw its potential. I personally love what they have done with the transformation. According to their reports, the most interesting architectural features of the building are its sweeping cantilevered canopies that extend out like arms from either side of the building. The Starbucks renovation team rebuilt and reinforced them, highlighting them in the overall design. As seen in these pictures, they provide shade not only for the cars in the drive-thru but also the walk-up window. The seating area is filled with their trademark green patio umbrellas. I hope you are able to check out this repurposed and redesigned Starbucks; maybe I will see you there.
By Trish Procetto