Felton once again has four places to fuel up.
The Felton Pit Stop — formerly known as Sturdy Oil, and Felton Fuels before that — reopened its newly remodeled doors next to Felton Covered Bridge Park on Saturday, Aug. 11.
Though the modernized facility will now sell Valero fuel, the station is fully owned and operated by Scotts Valley resident Ken Bunter, who bought the business in October 2011.
“(Valero) dressed up the pumps and put on the necessary details,” such as a new price sign on the street, Bunter said. “We were just remodeling the building.”
According to Valero spokesman Bill Day, independent gas station owners can contract to sell Valero fuel.
The advantage of such an arrangement, Day said, is that it allows independent operators to be regularly supplied by the chain’s network — meaning fewer potential interruptions in a station’s fuel stores.
For Bunter, entering the gas station business is in many ways a return to his roots.
His family originally located in Santa Cruz County because of his father’s work with Standard Oil Company. He eventually operated his own Chevron station near the Capitola Village.
“It’s what brought our family to Santa Cruz,” said Bunter, who was a regular fixture at his father’s station during his adolescence and early adult life before he opened a window fixing shop, Advanced Blind and Shade in Soquel, in 1990.
After 20 years working with window coverings, Bunter said he knew it was time for a change. So, in 2010, he sold his share of the company and began looking for a gas station he could buy.
Bunter described the facility as something of a fixer-upper.
“It really was a bit of a dive,” he said. “The plan all along was to do that remodel.”
After seven months spent getting permits from the county for the remodel and rebranding, Sturdy Oil, as it was then called, shut its doors May 13 for refurbishing.
The remodel process was not always the smoothest, Bunter said, but he was pleased with the result.
“It took three months — we tried to shoot for two,” he said, noting the drawn-out permit process closed him during the summer driving season. “If you had to pick three months to be closed, I wouldn’t have picked June, July and August.”
Felton Pit Stop’s convenience store has had a thorough remodeling and now features hot food, fresh sandwiches and a walk-in “beer cave.” Outside, the station now has a propane pump.
The façade of the building was redone to blend in more seamlessly with the background behind it, Bunter said, particularly station’s gabled entrance, designed to be similar to that of the Felton Covered Bridge.
“We made a lot of changes to the station,” Bunter said. “Our plan for décor is to celebrate the great American gas station.”
He said that giving the station a clean, modern feel was crucial, particularly in making the facility appear welcoming and inviting to out-of-town visitors to the nearby Mount Hermon Conference Center, Roaring Camp Railroads and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park campgrounds.
“I’ve already noticed a number of tourists (since the Saturday opening),” he said. “I’m trying to keep some of those transient dollars in Felton.”
Bunter said he doesn’t have immediate plans for a grand opening, but he is eager to continue fueling his family’s tradition.
“If my father were here, I think he’d be pleased,” he said.
To comment, email reporter Joe Shreve at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 438-2500 or post a comment at www.pressbanner.com.