M ark Raybon grew up around gas stations. His grandfather ran a station in South Miami for years. His father, Larry Raybon, bought Larry’s Chevron at 1800 Alton Rd. in 1982.
Today, Raybon, 46, owns and manages both Larry’s Chevron and Larry’s Service Center in Miami Beach. The latter, in the Sunset Harbour area since 1999, will expand and move around the corner — to 1861 Bay Rd. — at the beginning of November.
As a teenager, Mark and his siblings — sister Debbie and twin brother Mike — worked weekends at the gas station to give their dad one day off.
“I always loved it,” says Raybon. After graduating from Coral Park High School and attending FIU for two years (he hated it), Raybon decided he’d rather work at the gas station.
“My father told me I had to get some training,” he recalls. So Raybon went to night school at South West High to become an auto mechanic — and then spent several years working in the shop for training.
In 1999, the Raybon family bought the gas station property, formerly leased from Chevron. Mark’s dad retired ,and he took over. The station was remodeled to add a convenience store and car wash. The auto-repair was moved and expanded to nearby Purdy Avenue, where Larry’s Service Center has remained — until the property, owned by Giant Motors, was recently sold.
“We decided to sell now because of increased real-estate values. Giant Motors will close Nov. 1,” said owner Richard May. “Mark and his employees have been under the Giant Motors roof for 16 years, and I could not have picked a more honest or trustworthy tenant,” adds May.
Long-time customers seem to agree.
“Larry’s is the greatest. They do all of my automobile work for decades. I trust them implicitly because they have always done right by me,” said Jose Simonet, a retired Judge and Beach resident.
Raybon says he’s excited about the new 9,000-square-foot facility — and grateful to have the service center to interact with customers as gas stations have become more automated.
The new Larry’s Service Center will be open Monday through Saturday. In addition to auto service and repairs, minor paint and body work will also be offered.
All 10 current employees will remain — including beloved manager Gary Ramsey, service manager Porfy Hernandez and head mechanic Ulises Figueroa.
As for missing the flooding and lack of parking on Purdy Avenue, Raybon jokes, “I am going to miss it dearly”.
Questions? Call Larry’s Chevron at 305-673-5844; Larry’s Service Center at 305-673-2770; or visit www.larryssobe.com.
GROWERS, GROCERS & GEFILTE FISH
The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU hosted over 250 members and guests for the preview opening of its new exhibit: “Growers, Grocers & Gefilte Fish: A Gastronomic Look at Florida Jews & Food.” The buffet cocktail event was held Oct. 14 at the Museum, 301 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach.
The exhibit explores nearly 200 years of Floridian Jews (from Pensacola to Key West) in all aspects of the food industry — from dairies and strawberry farmers to supermarket owners and famous delis like Rascal House and Wolfie’s. In fact, the exhibit features a recreated deli counter from Wolfie’s, along with an enlarged 1960s postcard from the deli.
Another highlight: a handmade jewel-encrusted bagel featuring 32,000 Swarovski crystals by Coral Springs-based artist Jonathan Stein.
The museum will display the exhibit for a year and will also host films, walking tours and cooking demos. Days/hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more, call 305-672-5044 or visit www.jewishmuseum.com.
KICKING UP THEIR BOOTS
The Fontainebleau Miami Beach hosted The Band Perry on Oct. 13 as part of its BleauLive Performance Series. The famous country-music sibs — lead singer Kimberly and younger brothers Reid and Neil — and their band performed hits including If I Die Young, You Lie and Done for an enthusiastic audience of hundreds.
Accompanying Kimberly backstage was her fiancé, J.P. Arencibia (lead catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays).
Upcoming performances include Adam Lambert (Nov. 30) and Gloria Gaynor and The Spinners (Dec. 14). For tickets and information, go to www.BleauLive.com.