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Lines for cheaper gas mark opening of 7-Eleven
New store opens at Whitmore Avenue & Blaker Road
Benny Dhanda 7eleven
Benny Dhanda (in grey suit) cut the ribbon to his new 7-Eleven at Whitmore Avenue and Blaker Road during a Friday ribbon cutting. At the same time, out of view, motorists were lining up for gas that cost $4.37 per gallon. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Traffic was a bit congested Friday at the new 7-Eleven at the corner of Whitmore Avenue and Blaker Road. From 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Union 76 gas was being sold for $4.37 per gallon.

It was owner Benny Dhanda’s way to celebrate the grand opening ribbon cutting which was held at 12:30 p.m. to a blast of music from a DJ, banners and the presentation of a $24,000 check to the city of Ceres for the purchase of a new police Harley Davidson motorcycle.

By the time the ribbon was cut to the new store at 12:30 p.m., the store had sold approximately 8,000 gallons of gasoline.

Gas was to resume to $5.09 per gallon.

Dhanda owns 19 gas stations now from as far north as Chico south to Merced. He also owns the Chevron station on Mitchell Road next to In-Shape City.

“Benny, congratulations on the store,” Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez told Dhanda. “Congratulations on the grand opening on your new establishment. The city of Ceres welcomes you to the community and wishes you prosperity for your business for many more years to come.”

He added the city is grateful for the cash donation to pay for the new police chopper.

The business also handed over a $711 check to Central Valley High School.

Brandi Meyer of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce said her group is very happy to see the new store and handed a plaque welcoming them to Ceres.

“We’re really excited to be on this side of town,” Dhanda told the crowd. “We’re going to look forward to growing with the city.”

Kevin Ley, who is with 7-Eleven corporation, commented that the corner is a “great site.”

“I’m with 7-Eleven corporate real estate and Benny called me and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this great site.’ He told me about the site and I’m like, ‘Benny, I’m working on the same site!’ So I know this is going to be good. Benny’s been around for a while now; he’s one of our stronger franchisees and I’m proud of him like a son.”

Ley later said the site is great because it can service the Blaker Road area neighborhood and Whitmore Avenue traffic, close accessibility to the highway and “there’s nothing around for anybody to be serviced.”

Dhanda won approval of his Conditional Use Permit (CUP) required to build the 4,740 square foot building in May 2019. The site has a zoning designation of Community Commercial (C-2) and a General Plan designation of Community Commercial (CC). Since the proposal is for a convenience store with a gas station, approval of a Conditional Use Permit entitlement was required for the project.

Ceres Police at 7Eleven
Ceres Police Chief Rick Collins, police sergeants and officers helped celebrate the grand opening of the new 7-Eleven on the west side of Ceres. Store franchisee Benny Dhanda (in gray suit at right) presented the department with a donation of $24,000 for the purchase of a new Harley-Davidson for the patrol unit. - photo by Jeff Benziger