ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There is comfort in consistency, in the mundane sameness of our lives.
We are creatures of habit who crave something to depend on especially in these undependable times.
Most of us are capable of adapting, of course. Things change. Life goes on.
But sometimes when the boring basic of routine is no longer boring or basic or routine, it can shock the system.
So here we are, faced with a disturbance in our universe we did not expect.
You’ve noticed, yes?
Our 7-Elevens. Our Allsup’s.
Soon, both will be no more.
It’s a change we can’t believe in. Not yet anyway.
Allsup’s, longtime local purveyor of greasy burritos and chimichangas that are the popular – and sometimes the only – road food mainstays when traveling the remote reaches of our state, is being sold to Yesway, it was announced this week.
After 63 years, the Allsup family of Clovis is calling it quits, turning over its 304 stores in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma to this Iowa-based convenience store upstart.
The other big change to our convenience store customs comes in the aftermath of Delek US buying out Alon USA Energy Inc. in 2017, the latter being a licensee of 7-Eleven, operating some 280 stores in New Mexico and Texas.
Delek is chucking the 7-Eleven licensing and is instead in the process of transforming each store into its own brand, known simply as DK. The rebranding began in February and is expected to be completed by 2021.
You may have noticed how many of the 7-Elevens in Albuquerque have already lost their signage, and perhaps you attributed that to wind or vandalism.
But, no. This is the first step in erasing 7-Eleven from our lives.
You can find one of the rebranded DK stores at Montgomery and Pennsylvania NE. Gone is the jaunty giant numeral 7 with the upper-cased “ELEVEN” in festive orange, maroon and forest green.
In its place is a bold, white sans-seriff DK and the cheery mantra, “Making your day a little easier.”
A clerk, dressed in a crisp black smock with DK embroidered in red, told me the store underwent a two-week transformation and was just recently completed.
It happens fast.
Gone are the Big Gulps, the Slurpees of our youths. Huge personal vats of sodas now come in cups marked with the Dr Pepper logo. The generic Slurpee is served in basic Styrofoam, and there is no indication that DK intends to continue the tradition of giving away free Slurpees on July 11, which is 7-Eleven Day. Sorry, kids.
“It’s like our childhoods are being replaced,” one shopper opined.
Change isn’t anything new. 7-Eleven, which opened its first store from the back of a Dallas icehouse in 1927, went by the name Tote’m Store and featured a totem pole as its logo until 1946 when the stores were renamed to reflect the change in store hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
That, of course, later changed when the store started remaining open around the clock.
Allsup’s was a master of change, introducing the convenience store world to the concept of 24-hour service, self-serve gas pumps and offering hot, cooked foods.
It’s the latter innovation that most Allsup’s aficionados are most concerned about. What is to become of the store’s legendary hot links, warmed and shriveled to leathery perfection by a relentless heat lamp?
And what of the iconic burrito – “world famous,” its paper sleeve reads – that crunchy pocket of beef and bean deep-fried to within an inch of its existence, yet somehow addicting?
People love these things. Last month, customers became apoplectic when Allsup’s stores in Texas and New Mexico ran out of burritos, some stores for as long as three weeks.
Reporter Michael Marks of the Texas Standard reported this week that one man in Stamford, Texas, bought 175 Allsup’s burritos to serve at his wedding reception.
Fear not. The Allsup’s burritos will not be going the way of the Big Gulp, Yesway chief executive officer Thomas Trkla vows.
“We look forward to building on Allsup’s legendary heritage and continuing to offer many of the amazing products and services Allsup’s customers are so passionate about, including – without question – the world-famous Allsup’s burrito,” he said.
In our turbulent sea of changes, at least we can hold onto that.
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.