A longstanding Wilmette convenience is no more.
The 7-11 general store and gas station on the northeast corner of Skokie Boulevard and Wilmette Avenue went out of business on Dec. 15 after more than three decades of service in Wilmette.
Village of Wilmette Community Development Director Lucas Sivertsen said the store and gas station — listed as separate businesses — had recently inquired about upgrading the facility but did not connect with the Village about its closure.
In emails with The Record, Lamor Gatenio Osmon said her mother, Sara Gatenio, was a 7-11 franchisee who operated the Wilmette location, which was not a 24-hour branch. Osmon said 7-11 Inc. did not provide the necessary funding to complete a renovation.
Neither Sara Gatenio nor 7-11 officials responded to messages from The Record by press time.
In a Facebook post, Sara Gatenio wrote that she began working at the store in 1984 and “My heart hurts saying goodbye to this wonderful community.” The post also included a photo of a letter Gatenio reportedly received from nearby parents, thanking her for serving a group of children who frequented the store.
The vacant storefront surprised many in Wilmette and neighboring communities, who went to social media in search of answers for the taped-up windows and shuttered gas pumps.
Many lamented the loss to the community, while others shared a GoFundMe for former store clerk, Jesus “Jesse” Hernandez, who reportedly was riding his bicycle to work in late October when a motorist struck him causing serious injuries.
The fundraiser has raised $7,500 toward its goal of $10,000 as of press time.
Sivertsen said the property owner is listed as Southland Corporation, the predecessor to 7-11 Inc. The property’s special-use permit, allowing for a gas station and convenience store, will expire in six months.
“After the six months of those uses being inactive, the special use approval goes away,” he said. “Any new business wanting to open a convenience store or gas station would need to go through and get their own approvals.”
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