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Why Did Union 76 Close?

We wanted to find out why the owner of the Union 76 decided to close the doors and leave Benicians with no option for buying a deep fried Twinkie.

A Sprouts and Shutters article published November 9 announced the closing of the Union 76 Gas Station at East Fifth and Military East and generated this comment:

Freedomisntfree123

8:00 pm on Friday, November 9, 2012

The city limited their ability to advertise and expand the food eating area on their property. Benicia's unfriendly business policies ran them out. They are going to open again in vallejo.

According to Community Development Director Charlie Knox, Union 76 needed a conditional use permit in order to have outside seating.  The parcel where the station is located is zoned general commercial.

City staff had been patiently waiting for the station’s owner, Musto Gunan to provide documentation and money needed so the permit approval process could move forward. 

A copy of the letter sent to Gunan by the city is attached to this article.  The checked items have been provided to city staff.

The permit fee is $1,275, but according to Knox he has the authority to reduce or wave those fees.  In this case, Gunan never appealed to Knox to have the fees reduced.  The fees are meant to cover staff time required to review the use permit application.

The county, which is responsible for inspecting establishments that serve food doesn’t have any regulations regarding outdoor seating near gas pumps.  “The only regulation we have is that the preparation be done in an enclosed area,” said Ricardo Serrano, an inspector with the Solano County Environmental Health Department.

If Freedomisntfree123 is correct and Gunan does plan to open a gas station with a grill in Vallejo, he better get ready for some sticker shock.  According to Bill Tuikka in the Vallejo planning department the cost of the use permit will be about $3,600.

A call to Gunan has not been returned.

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

Babaloo November 17, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Criminal. the fees are ludicrous. to "evaluate" paperwork ? Really ? This is one prime example of the City of Benicia Mismanagement. Those who can, Do. The " Peter" Principle.
JB Davis November 17, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I believe if you go to any other city in Solano County, you will find we have the lowest staffing level of any planning department and the lowest fees. While you may not like the idea of zoning requirements, they are reality and they serve an important purpose and having competent staff who can review competently review applications saves business owners and the city a lot of money in the long run. We should be glad we have low fees, good zoning, especially in the industrial park and a staff that is both hardworking and competent.
"The Black Panther of Poetry" November 18, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Dude change your Obama picture. Any sane and rational person is aware that he won!!!
Stan Houston November 23, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I agree with JB. I have several businesses in other towns and Benicia's fees are at par or below what other cities charge for business fees. I've always had positive experiences with staff even when turned down for something I've proposed.
Marlon Ostil November 26, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I've had my run ins with the place. 75% good but the bad out weighed the good even though it was 25%. The owner can be an ass sometimes when you let him know somethings not right. I stopped getting gas there for the simple fact he never updated the pump handle to code and I would always have to shove a water bottle into the pump handle. The indian food was really good but he wasnt fooling anyone by serving Trader joes frozen garlic naan which are good but the problem I had was that he claims them to be his own. His burgers were all bad. The meat used just never tasted right and always had a funny after taste (tired them twice). I was a regular though for Indian food at least once a week. The owner can be an ass but his staff was always cool. Well... there was one time the lil short Indian worker gave me some cold garlic fries and tried to argue that they are served better at room temp. Then on the new batch he straight used his bare ass hands not even washed to mix in the garlic dressing for the fries! I was like WTF! The next time I went in my veggie paneer was freaking so spicy I couldnt eat it. I think that was done intentionally. Benicia has decent food for as small as our city is. Between the Japanese, Mexican, or Thai spots only one of each is good and ive tried them all.

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