PLEASANTON -- Situated on a corner next to a boutique store and across the street from a pizza joint, Coast Gasoline is never an empty business.

Even in times with high gas prices and a shaky economy, drivers flock to Coast Gasoline, a staple along Main Street and the last gas station in Pleasanton's downtown area.

Owners Kim Do and Tiung Nguyen acquired the business from a friend in March 1993, and for nearly two decades, the pair have have watched customers grow from children in car seats to drivers of cars.

"It is nice, being able to talk to them face-to-face," said Do. "Most customers we know, and it is nice to know most of them don't go to other stations."

The gas station, which has been in operation under one company or another since 1931, has quite the history to it.

Beginning in 1874, the gas station actually started out instead as a Victorian-style hotel called The Germania Hotel, according to Jennifer Amiel of Museum on Main.

Famous Pleasantonian John Kottinger built the hotel, Amiel said, and in 1881 decided to rename it The Pleasanton Hotel. (This is not the same Pleasanton Hotel as the one that is currently on Main Street. That is, in fact, the third Pleasanton Hotel, according to Amiel.)

In 1931, a local businessman named John Amaral purchased the hotel -- and the entire corner lot -- to make way for newer buildings.

"He actually purchased the corner at a steal," Amiel said. "He got everything for only $5,000. That wouldn't happen today."

Amaral, an insurance man, built the gas station and a set of bungalows and opened his business.

Today, the building that houses Coast Gasoline is the same building Amaral built, but the bungalows have been heavily renovated.

According to Amiel, Coast Gasoline is not only the last gas station in downtown, the building is also the oldest gas station in Pleasanton.

But age or some of the wear and tear the building has doesn't deter customers, nor does it deter the owners.

Even though Do has to work a second job at Safeway, coming to the gas station to work and say hi to friends who pass through makes slower days worthwhile.

"We like running the business so that we can make a living," Nguyen said. "The economy is not as busy as it was a few years ago. But people still support us, and we love that."

Follow Katie Nelson at Twitter.com/katienelson210.

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