You may have noticed that the small Post Road gas station — nestled between Playhouse Square and the Saugatuck Congregational Church — no longer calls itself Getty.
You may not know the reason why. Or what it all means for a couple of locally owned franchisees, and one of the most famous names in the oil industry.
The station is among the oldest in Westport. It opened in the 1940s as a Tydol. In 1987 Jay Fisher — a Staples grad — and Jay Ostreicher bought it from Carl Dulberg.
They were a Getty station. But around 2000 Getty sold its marketing division, and became essentially a real estate company.
Over the years, more and more layers pushed John and Jay — and dozens of other franchisees — further and further from “Getty.” A series of complex transactions ensued, but the bottom line is: Near the end of December, Getty announced it was terminating leases. John and Jay’s ran through 2015.
Fifty Connecticut gas stations hired legal counsel. Attorneys advised the station owners they could buy fuel elsewhere. But they had to cover up the Getty signs.
That’s why the Westport station now says “J & J Car Care Center.” And why — though every day brings another crisis — the station is still open for business.
“We’re on pins and needles,” Jay says. “This is not what you want from a company we’ve been sending checks to since the day we opened.”
The upside, he says, is “now that we buy unbranded gas at regular market prices, we’re very competitive.”
The station is full-serve only. (Its pumps are too close to the Post Road to be self-serve.) And that service — many Westporters know — is personal and caring.
“Our customers — they’re also our friends — are great,” Jay says. “We love working with them.
“We’ll be here until we can’t be. All we want is for our lease to be honored, and our rights as a franchise holder to be respected.”