Station in transition
By Thursday afternoon (June 13) it seemed obvious the Elemsco Citgo service station was undergoing transition, with new staff working at the Chestnut Street site, long-time employees leaving, and new partners taking over.
The mix of claims circulating online and on the street also included worries that Elmesco would no longer accept gasoline-discount cards issued by Foodtown.
On the first of two reporter visits to the station, two individuals identified themselves as staff. One, Kirmani Suye, indicated he would be Elmes’ partner. He said the station would remain as Elmes planned — a Dunkin’ Donuts outlet and convenience store and gasoline pumping — but added that the Dunkin’ Donuts was still likely six to nine months away.
Suye said employees currently working in the garage would stay until construction of the Dunkin’ Donuts begins. The second man, who on Wednesday gave his name as Jim Laye, said he would manage the auto repair shop on an interim basis and also run the Dunkin’ Donuts shop and convenience store once they open. A day later, “Laye” said he used the latter name to simplify things and that his actual name is Sufi “Jim” Ali.
Suye and Ali said the overall business would be known as the Cold Spring Service Center.
Thursday afternoon, Joe Inieallo, a spokesman for Suye, said that Suye and a man named Syed Hussein would be co-owners of the operation and that Elmes would remain as an employee to run the gas pumping station.
Suye said he has owned a Bronx service operation since 1989 and has known Elmes for several years. He said they began negotiations over the Cold Spring operation “about a month and a half ago.”
Previously, Elmes planned to partner with a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise-owner from Peekskill. However, “that didn’t go through,” according to Suye.
Elmes, who has operated the business for over 25 years, was not available Wednesday. Suye and Ali confirmed that Elmes was in the hospital undergoing surgery. After a 2009 motorcycle accident in which he broke his ankle, part of Elmes’ leg was amputated as a result of serious infections incurred while hospitalized.
John Alves, a mechanic at Citgo, said that Elmes was hospitalized Tuesday due to swelling in his leg and was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday. “I talked to him this morning,” Alves said Wednesday. “He said he would be wheelchair-bound for six months.” Alves also said Elmes had commented in his usual understated manner, “’it’s nothing serious.’”
Over the years, Elmesco has made a practice of hiring local residents and students to pump gas. Asked if the new operation would continue that tradition, Suye responded “absolutely.” However, Max Tiffany-Miller, a mechanic at the station, told The Paper that at least three employees had left in the last few days. He said that he understood that one gas attendant had quit and another had been fired and that a mechanic had left under uncertain circumstances.
Photos by M. Turton