Long before Starbucks roasted the shit out of its first coffee bean, Circle K was the ultimate example of corporate America run amuck. For a while there it seemed like you couldn't find a single intersection in the Valley that didn't sport at least one of these reddish orange-colored odes to the almighty Thirstbuster. And while this Phoenix-based chain might not be as omnipresent as it once was, it's still a pleasantly-predictable way to fill up on fatty snacks and cheap beer.
Which is why it's so shocking when you walk into the Circle K at the southeast corner of 69th Street and Indian School Road. Not only is the layout all askew--why is the parking lot off to the side, what's with the weird long, linear layout?--but someone went and dropped an entire liquor shop into the middle of this cookie-cutter convenience store.
Here, you can browse aisle after aisle of fine wines and premium spirits, as well as an impressive collection of craft brews housed inside a walk-in beer cave. And is that a bottle of 1998 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve just sitting on the shelf? Why, yes it is.
To quote the immortal Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K." Get all of your questions answered after the jump, no time-traveling phone booth required.
It turns out the building was originally constructed as two storefronts, with a standard Circle K on the east end and a branch of Circle K's former liquor store brand, Kork & Keg, on the west end. And although both stores were always connected by an interior door, the liquor laws at the time demanded that they be kept separate, says assistant manager, Vincent Lopez. "So when the laws changed in the early 1980s, the owner simply knocked down the dividing wall to create a single Circle K with a full liquor store inside because he still had a liquor license."
Seems simple enough, but what explains the selection of super-premium booze, such as the $280 bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky and the $180 bottle of Remy Martin X/O parked right next to the checkout counter? According to Lopez, between nearby resorts such as the Hotel Valley Ho and The Phoenician, and all the $30,000 millionaires in Old Town, "we get a lot of high rollers, especially around the holidays." Which is why you'll occasionally find $200 bottles of Louis Roederer "Cristal" Champagne in the wine cooler, right next to the $8 bottle of sparkling hangover maker.
That said, Lopez admits their best sellers are a little more reasonably priced. "We sell a ton of shooter bottles that people use to replace the really expensive one's they took out of the minibar."
Now that's convenience. 6901 E. Indian School Rd., 480-947-9827
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