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Say It Ain’t So

May 2, 2010

Anchor Steam Beer at the Rock N Roll 7 Eleven, Highland Park

One of the beauties of Highland Park, are the many Mom & Pop businesses here. Small, family owned stores, and restaurants providing quality food, products and services at reasonable prices. Some have been here for decades, some are world-renowned, while others starting humbly here, have gone on to become multi-billion dollar companies. We have numerous franchise-operated businesses, there is McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Jack in The Box, Subway, Little Caesars, El Pollo Loco, Chevron, 76 Gas, Shell, and Mobil to name a few. But the most unusual franchised corporate chain in Highland Park had to be our ROCK N ROLL 7 ELEVEN.

By the end of the week the 7 Eleven on the corner of Figueroa and Avenue 52 will regress into becoming just another 7-11. Instead of selling Anchor Steam, Chimay, Ola Dubh, Pliny The Elder, and cans of imperial stout, the store will be selling commonplace Bud, Miller, Coors, Corona, and this inspired beer product from the third largest beer retailer in the United States. This store famous for their micro brews, Belgian ales, superior wine selection, fresh Broguiere’s glass bottled milks, Highland Park’s best selection of magazines, and Rock N Roll music blasting 24/7 was sold last month after being ran by the same family since 1978.

Christmastime 2007 at Rock N Roll 7 Eleven. Photo via Wildbell’s photostream.

Charles Chimea and his wife Jonna started making their 7 Eleven more interesting about five years ago when they added some of the better quality products that they enjoyed and wanted to share with their customers; while at the same time, keeping all the regular 7 Eleven products people have come to expect at any of the 38,000 stores around the world. Since then, word started to spread, and the place became legendary in beer circles, and gained outstanding approval from Yelpers.

The Mighty Beer Cooler at Rock N Roll 7-11. Photo via Wildbell’s photostream.

Unfortunately, great reviews and great sales receipts weren’t what parent company, Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd was interested in. Their biggest concern for this franchise was conformity. For the past few years, as Rock N Roll 7 Eleven tried to improve their store and meet their customer’s desire for better products, while raising their profile against other convenience stores, their corporate parent blocked their efforts at every turn. It was a constant battle that eventually led to the family’s decision to sell, rather than compromise their vision for the best 7 Eleven store in the nation.

Another sad aspect of the sale, is how it will dissolve the employee family at store #22381. Walking into this 7 Eleven it was unusual to see who was behind the counter. It wasn’t the typical owner’s family member of Indian decent that we have come to expect in most 7 Elevens. Behind the counter at our 7 Eleven it was likely someone in their teens or 20’s who grew up here. Following the tweets of Highland Parker and 7 Eleven employee, Gilbert Erentreich over the past several months was like following a soap opera titled: “The Day of our 7 Eleven Lives.” It was a window to the inner workings of a convenience store. –Fights in the store and in the parking lot, fights between employees, heading off beer runs, dealing with deliveries and customers, the boss on a bad day, behavior of fellow employees and their shenanigans, and yet through it all there was a genuine fraternal appreciation for the workers of Rock N Roll 7 Eleven. All that will now come to an end as the employees are forced to move on.

The owners plan to focus on the family’s real estate business, and my quest for a Belgian ale at 12 AM will have to now be satisfied outside of 90042. While Jonna assured me that the new owners are good people and hope to some day bring the quality beers back, as for me I can’t see myself shopping at this 7 Eleven much anymore.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2010 10:46 pm

    I don’t know but the last few times I was there the beer section was nothing like the pic above, with only a few different options. I remember buying 2 normalish 6-packs and paying around $25 for them. That’s the reason I stopped going there.

  2. May 3, 2010 12:38 am

    Whatupthough, sirs and sir-ettes… we (the 7-elevenators of R&R711) actually, for the most part, are going to stick around.. I cant speak for the entire cast and crew of the “The Day of our 7 Eleven Lives” , as Im not sure exactly how everyone else feels of the transition, but we have been spared sudden doom as one of the conditions of said transition.. As far as the craft beer, dont count us out just yet.. Sure as night and day, you see the drastic change as far as beer selection, but we will try and keep whatever beer we might get away with ordering in still.. Sure, the selection might not consist of every single trappist beer in the coming weeks, but like I said, dont count us out just yet, people. The Awesomeness is merely on hiatus…. I know this will surely effect the flow and demographic of our consumers but hopefully we can get at least half of yall back in when we start getting the ball rolling once again.. hope to see you there again, though Im not sure I’d know it was you if/when I see you, Walt. Same to those, following @hlp90042.. Hope to see you dudes and dudettes.. I, as well as some, if not all my coworkers, will be happy to sell you” coors light”… haha, for now…

    • May 3, 2010 9:13 am

      Thanks Gilbert. You guys rock! But then again, being “Rock N Roll 7 Eleven” you knew that already.

  3. May 3, 2010 8:58 am

    I’ve started stopping by here during the day to get my coffee ever since I started working in the Northeast in October, and it was always refreshing hearing some good music when I walked in. I had no idea this was a local legend. Sad to find out what it is right before it is forced to become something its not.

  4. Will Campbell permalink
    May 3, 2010 9:51 am

    My jaw dropped and stayed there until I read Gilbert’s encouraging comment. Here’s hoping they don’t break what’s working.

  5. Miss Marissa Lynn permalink
    May 3, 2010 11:24 am

    Although I’ve never purchased beer at this 7-11 myself, I had seen the selection and was always surprised by it (As well as the Draft Magazines on the counter). I am hopeful that this location will remain unique in whatever ways it can, even with the new owners.

  6. May 3, 2010 11:29 am

    First Cycleway folds and now this? I saw Waltarrr’s tweet last night and I actually lost sleep over this. Pathetic? Maybe. It’s just beer, right? But I’m still fired up about it. It meant more than that. If I had friends that were dubious of Highland Park, I’d take them to The Rock and Roll 711 and blow their minds.

    Gilbert, if there is anything we can do to please let us know.

  7. May 3, 2010 12:02 pm

    I was just at that 7-11 Saturday night after my show at Mr. T’s Bowl! This a great blog and community focus is incredibly important. My mission is to promote local music and I spend a lot of time in Highland Park and at Mr. T’s Bowl.

    I look forward to becoming a regular reader.

    Aron
    http://www.afgmustrock.wordpress.com

  8. May 3, 2010 12:30 pm

    So sad. I admit that I didn’t buy beer here, but I made a point to visit this particular 7-11 whenever I needed a cup of hot tea (with real milk! not “non-dairy creamer” when I was headed out early to class. The last time I popped in Def Leopard was pumping out of the speakers at 8:15 a.m. It’s one of the many things that has made Highland Park special.

  9. carol permalink
    May 3, 2010 10:09 pm

    really enjoy and appreciate your site.
    thanks1

  10. Daffy F. Duck permalink
    May 4, 2010 10:08 pm

    The man is a horrendous asshole and I will not miss him. I welcome the change.

  11. Catherine permalink
    May 5, 2010 1:58 am

    Dear “Daffy Duck”: What exactly is your problem? Why post such a negative comment about the coolest 7-Eleven ever and hide behind such a lame screen name. Why not man up and show your identity? Maybe because you are such a loser and probably are upset that the owner banned you from the store for stealing a snicker bar or didn’t put up with some pathetic gripe or whine you attempted to subject his cool employees to. Or maybe you were unable to purchase your single serve can of beer using your EBT? Too bad, you should probably stick to purchasing your items at the local dollar stores which are located in abundance throughout Highland Park. It is apparent that you are not a consumer that this proprietor would welcome in his store in the first place and would never miss your patronage of same. Those who appreciate taste, excellent products, cool employees and upbeat music which set this 7-Eleven apart from all others will definately miss him and all his hard work and efforts to bring us, the customer what we wanted!

    • Daffy F. Duck permalink
      May 10, 2010 1:40 am

      Wow. I bet you were so proud of yourself when you wrote that. Must be cathartic to get those zingers in and show those nasty stereotypes who’s boss. My comment was based on my 20+ years of trying to patronize my local neighborhood 7-11 and having to deal with “the family” and employees (current crew excluded, I mean the previous generation. Mickey apache Ray were cool though) and I stand by it. I’ve been to 7-11’s all across the country and even on the other side of the planet. My only complaint there was they aren’t ‘mericans and only go up to “Big Gulp” so I always had to buy two. But they were always respectful. At my local 7-11 it’s been a different story. Of all the times I have been accused of stealing something or was kept under a watchful eye, 9 out of 10 times it’s been from here. I’ve never stolen anything in my life (but I have returned money and lost pets), hate the taste of beer (my father is an alcoholic and swears by the stuff), love the taste of snickers, struggle to pay my bills but have never been on any sort of assistance. And dollar stores, well they usually don’t have a good selection of surfing or photography mags. I pay my taxes, actually show up for jury duty, stop for pedestrians at all the crosswalks on Figueroa when others don’t and I’ve never liked Charles. I’m sorry. I finally stopped going there when he decided to play cowboy and got in my face (he ate a Double-Gulp sized crow that day) So there, since you asked, there exactly is my problem. People like you. People like Charles. Catherine, you keep beating on those straw men every chance you get girl. I hear there’s a snicker inside.

      • Daffy F. Duck permalink
        May 10, 2010 1:41 am

        Yay for paragraphs.

  12. Manuel permalink
    May 5, 2010 1:44 pm

    i guess i’d like to also pay my respects. i’ m a current employee here as well, and have worked at the establishment for over two years. it has definitely been a trying few weeks. i think the great thing about the job was the feeling that you played a part into the decision making process of the store. the past few days have, sadly, consisted in a complete interior remodeling. me and my coworkers had the ability to order many of the products that were available to you guys, and seeing many of the things removed was very difficult. on a physical level, this is no longer the store that we’ve worked in.

    the owners, in retrospect, have been very kind people, and will be missed. on a basic level, they entrusted us, young people, with jobs that may not have been available to us anywhere else. but aside that, i think my fellow workers enjoyed very cohesive, fraternal relationships. the work itself may have been stressful at times, but most of the people shared their frustrations with a bowling game, a movie, or even a date after work. i think the higher ups understood that as they got to know us, and that was fortunate. on a personal level, i grew into a college student during my tenure, and they were kind enough to let me keep my job despite having to commute from miles away. as i grew to learn, i enjoyed my job, and they respected my work. that mutual trust was good to experience. and the fact that they were lax about me wearing a uniform was cool too.

    i don’t necessarily know what the future brings. things are already changing, and there’s the grim feeling now that things may never be the same again. but that’s business for you, i guess. either way, i have an ever growing appreciation for my bosses for the fact that they demonstrated that you can turn a generic corporate building into something unique. the fact that i had a hand in a business that was modestly acclaimed is a memory that won’t be forgetten.

    • vafqueth permalink
      May 7, 2010 9:39 pm

      Dear Manuel,

      I’ve always been curious.

      How do you pronounce your name?

      Mah NWELL ?

      Mann OO Well ?

      MANN yo ?

      MANNY OHL?

      Mann YOOL ?

      Mahn NOO ell ?

      Meño ?

      Mañ0 ?

      May ño ?

      Mane ño?

      Maña

      May NULL?

      My cousin has the same name and he changes pronunciation every time I hear him say it. I never know how to introduce him…

      • May 7, 2010 10:18 pm

        However you pronounce your name Manuel, thanks for sharing your perspective here, and best of luck. Curious to walk in and see the “New” place, but then, want to just remember it in its glory days.

        I myself prefer to call everyone I know with the name Manuel, “MANeeeeeeee” ala Run Lola Run. But then that’s just me. I digress.

  13. May 6, 2010 11:51 am

    this really is a bummer. my wife and I run our own mom and pop business and were constantly inspired by the “rock-n-roll 7 eleven”. they did things their way and listened to the people. We live just down the street and always laughed in the car trying to guess what they were blaring in the store. we are truly sad and will miss the current vibe tremendously. most of all, i think we will miss the totally 100% indie spirit vibe that surrounded the place. peace out guys.

  14. Crisis permalink
    May 9, 2010 12:02 am

    The Audubon Center at Debs Park, Mr. T’s, Galco’s, the Arroyo Seco Library, La Estrella, Chico’s, and Rock N Roll 7 Eleven.

    “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
    bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
    brown paper packages tied up with strings,
    these are a few of my favorite things…”

    “…When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
    when I’m feeling sad,
    I simply remember my favorite things,
    and then I don’t feel so bad.”

  15. May 10, 2010 12:57 am

    Waltar,

    Does the original Rock & Roll 7-11 still exist? I’d love to shoot a short documentary piece on this transition that is happening between the old and the new 7-11. Maybe you can contact me about it, It’d be super cool to get in contact with you about some of the details – even have you in the piece.

  16. May 12, 2010 1:36 pm

    This 7-11 was my safe haven in a world filled with too many beers that are so similiar to pee that the possibility of it actually being bottled (or canned) urine cannot be out ruled. I cringe at the thought of walking in there and hearing the sounds of anything that might be on a middle aged, single ladie’s “favorites” playlist and everytime celine dion, maroon 5, and michael bolton wail their tunes in there, I will give a moment of silence for the beloved rock n’ roll 7-11 that it once was.

  17. July 3, 2010 12:27 am

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

  18. Dave permalink
    June 6, 2014 11:49 pm

    Everyone knows the original rock and roll 7-11 was on Sunset and Curson in Hollywood CA!

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