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Line forms for cheap gas Station's 4-hour promotion generates good will among patient motorists

A month ago, waiting at least a half hour in line to pay $2.33 a gallon for gasoline would have been absurd.

But Saturday, it was time well-spent for the best deal in Buffalo.

A promotional event at Polino's Service Station/Gas Outlet brought hundreds of motorists to the little neighborhood station at Delaware and West Delavan avenues, where they filled their vehicles with regular unleaded for $2.33 a gallon.

"I only waited about 25 minutes," said Joseph Caci, 71, a Riverside resident and frequent customer at Polino's. "And it was worth it."

Gas prices soared to an average of $3.44 a gallon locally after Hurricane Katrina struck the petroleum industry along the Gulf Coast late last month. On Friday, gasoline averaged $3.19 a gallon in the area, according to AAA figures.

Polino's had promoted the event all week to mark its grand reopening after switching from Mobile to Goetz Energy Corp., a local gas supplier, owner Christopher Polino said.

The station's prices started Saturday at $2.97 a gallon, but from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Polino's knocked off roughly 64 cents in taxes on a gallon of gas.

Motorists who saw the jaw-dropping prices formed a line that ran up Lafayette Avenue, around Gates Circle and along Delaware Avenue until their turn came to pull up to one of the station's four gas pumps.

"They had it worked out perfect," Caci said. "They had all the workers out there pumping the gas for you, making change, so it was no problem."

The customers were orderly and pleasant, said Bob Polino, who started the business in 1970 and turned it over to his son a few years ago. Most of all, they were thankful.

In fact, gas started at $2.99 a gallon at the station just across the street.

"People are trying to stretch their money," said James Derby, 70, who lives in the neighborhood and was among the first in line, "and it was a real bargain."

At the end of the promotion, the price went back up to $2.85 a gallon, but not until the station served more than 400 vehicles and sold about 4,500 gallons of gas, said Steven D. Jackson of Goetz Energy.

That's normally about two days worth for the station, he said.

"We took a loss on it, but hopefully people will remember us and give us their business," Christopher Polino said. "Everyone wanted to know when I was going to do it again."

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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