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Route 66 News

Old gas stations being converted into trendy restaurants

Many old and abandoned gas stations in America are being converted into neighborhood restaurants, according to a story on CNN.com. And Route 66 is not immune to this trend.

The report said:

“Gas stations are almost always on corner sites, they have good visibility and great accessibility, so they make great locations for restaurants,” said Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor of architecture and urban design at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of “Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.”

Although the population and the number of cars have increased, there’s been an 8.2% decline in the number of gas stations throughout the country from 2002 to 2012, according to National Petroleum News’ MarketFacts 2012.

Dunham-Jones, who studies adaptive reuse of many types of buildings, said gas stations repurposed into eateries tend to be near residential neighborhoods — and many of those households do not have kids at home, she said. That makes aging gas stations, strip malls and office parks prime sites for the eateries and coffee shops where they now spend their time.

The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program has long advocated for the adaptive reuse of historic properties such as gas stations and motels. In other words, if you can keep the basic historic look, preservationists are fine with it if you turn a gas station into a cafe.

Examples I think of on Route 66 are the Standard Diner in Albuquerque, the Early Bird Cafe in Davenport, Okla., Wild Bill’s Fill’n Station in Amarillo and the recently opened 918 Coffee in Tulsa.

I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting. If you know of other converted gas stations on the Mother Road, chime in with a comment.

(Hat tip to Rich Dinkela; image of the Standard Diner of Albuquerque by Patricia Drury via Flickr)

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4 thoughts on “Old gas stations being converted into trendy restaurants

  1. Lee Sundermeyer

    So glad these wonderful old structures are being put to good use. I think the modern term is “re-purposed.”

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