Fueling competition? Kluge's gas mart gears up

If the markets of Belmont are a blast from the past, then Patricia Kluge's soon-to-open gas station/restaurant/convenience store Fuel may be a sign of what's to come.

For now, however, Kluge says Fuel will not be competing with other convenience markets because "Fuel is not a market, nor will it ever be. It is a gas station, restaurant, wine bar, café, and 'C' store."

Kluge says shoppers won't come to Fuel to pick up diapers, fishing bait, or aspirin. They will come to fuel their bodies and their cars.

For the body, the shelves at Fuel's convenience mart– or "C" store in Kluge parlance– will be stocked with "lots of salty, sweet, and chocolate snacks." A variety of soft drinks, bottled water, beers, and wine will also be available to quench upscale thirsts.

To keep those Porsches and Mercedes humming, there will be gas outside and an automotive section within.

Kluge's description of the store conjures a clean and minimalist look– "white walls, stainless fans, iridescent dark gray floor tiles, dark gray wood stations, stainless metro shelving, iridescent silver tables, natural wood, and stainless chairs."

Fuel's café will eschew the homestyle fried chicken and fish of the Belmont stores. Instead, diners may find pannini sandwiches, soups, salads, homemade pastries, "euro-style" coffees, and "pommes frites," (fancified French fries.)

Adding to the sleek, sophisticated ambience, Kluge promises "attractive, uniformed gas attendants." To that end, Fuel has already hired a 50-strong force to staff Fuel's various departments.

The goal of Fuel? "Filling a void in the gas station market," says Kluge, "by combining enlightened soul-inspiring architecture, fine food, and personal gas services."

And speaking of personal gas services, is there any chance customers might find Ms. Kluge herself pumping gas or serving wine?

"If we are short-staffed," she says, "anything is possible!"

The future of gas stations?