188 Seneca Street • Hornell, NY 14843
Our History

June of 1960: Harold and Doris Stewart bought the Esso Service Station, on the corner of Big Creek Rd. and Ct.Rt.70A. They were open 7 days a wk. 7am - 7pm. Harold worked very hard 7 days a wk. Doris did all the paper work from home, as that was where the office was. At this time they were doing repair work,pumping gas and washing cars. There were no lifts and only cold water to wash cars. Gasoline was .29cents a gallon. By the end of 1960 they had to hire there first full time employee and 1 part time. As Doris stayed at home to raise the family. She would deliver Harolds lunch and dinner to him every day. When the boys got old enough to help They would work after school and on the weekends.

1966: Esso had become a Exxon station, and there was a gas war going on. At this time we had decieded it was time to close on Sundays.

1974: We had bought the Sunoco Service Station, at are current location. 188 Seneca St. Hornell. At this time we took on 2 tow trucks and a indoor carwash. The tow trucks ran 24 hrs a day. Harold would work all day and sometimes all night, just to make sure that you got home safe.

1983: Scott, Harolds youngest son had graduated from the Alfred State college automotive program. In 1984 had gotten married to Debi Clark. He was working for his father part time,until graduation.Then went full time before purchasing the business in 1990.

1990: Scott, Harolds youngest son and his wife Debi had decied to purchase the Station. Alot of things were staring to change with the envermental laws.

1992: Scott had decided to remove the gas pumps and tanks. This was replaced by a three bay carwash and a new indoor automitic wash.

2000: Scott had started selling used cars. At this time we though this would fit in well with the Auto repairs, tow truck and car washes. It also allowed us to stop taking 24hr.towing. allowing more time with the family. Business hrs. went 7am to 5pm.

2002: We decied to build a new office at the shop. His wife started working full time with him at the shop.

2005: Scotts oldest son Brian had come to work full time with us. Youngest son Jason was off to college at Clarkson University.

2023: Scott and Debi Stewart retire, new owners Dennis and Jonathan Mullikin to continue the quality service that the Stewart family has built over the years.

Newspaper Articles


Evening Tribune Article

Harold Stewart – Photo: Scott C. Hooker
Harold Stewart has helped out a lot of people in the seven years he has owned Stewart's Sunoco, partially because of the 24-hour towing service he offers. Stewart, who purchased the Seneca Street station from the Ames family, never knows when a call will come in asking him to go out and jump start a dead battery, assist police with an accident, or just help a stranded traveler. "You have to respond quickly, especially when the calls come in the early morning," Stewart said. "Some nights I only get a couple hours of sleep and at times it throws your schedule off, but you get used to it," he added. Stewart, however, enjoys his work because it gives him a chance to be around people. "You meet all kinds of people; it's kinda different, kinda nice," he said. He believes it's important to "live and let live," and said "you just have to put one foot in front of the other." A bowler, Stewart enjoys fishing and "tinkering around in woodworking." Stewart, 56, and his wife Doris live at 186 Hornell Street. They have five children.

"Business Beat"

Evening Tribune Article

On June 19, Harold and Doris Stewart of Stewart's Sunoco Service at 188 Seneca Street, Hornell, marked their 25th year in business. Above, their son Scott, a mechanic at the station, assists his father near their new truck. Harold Stewart previously owned an Esso station in North Hornell, which changed to Exxon. He moved to his current location in 1975. With five employees, including the Stewarts, the station provides gasoline, AAA Emergency Service, Montgomery Ward Emergency Service, inspections, 24-hour towing and a "Mr. Scrub" car wash. Stewart's Sunoco Service is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"DEC regulations force change from gas pumps to a car wash"

Evening Tribune Article By Rob Price

Work has begun on three self-service car wash bays at Stewart's Sunoco Service, on Seneca Street. Owners Scott and Debi Stewart are discontinuing their fuel pumping business and will focus on providing automotive, towing, and car washing service. Environmental regulations have made the gas business too expensive for independent owners, the Stewarts say. Photo: Rob Price
Hornell – One of the city's last independently owned gas stations is getting out of the pumping business, a casualty of the growing cost of compliance with environmental regulations. But Debi and Scott Stewart, owners of Stewart's Sunoco Service, 188 Seneca Street, aren't leaving the station. They're just changing its purpose. A mound of dirt marks the spot where three gas tanks used to be. The tanks were dug up last week, and the Stewarts will have built three self-service car washing bays by the end of summer to take their place. The station will continue to house an automatic car wash. The Stewarts will also continue providing a 24-hour towing service, plus car mechanical service in the main service bay facing Seneca Street. But no more gas. "I don't have the funds," Scott Stewart said in a discussion about environmental regulations governing the maintenance of underground tanks. According to Stewart, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued regulations mandating that gas stations carry $1-million insurance policies on underground tanks. In addition, the DEC ordered regular testing of the tanks in an effort to prevent underground leakage and contamination of ground water. The tests cost about $400 per tank, Stewart said. The bigger problem is that insurers won't insure tanks that are 18-years-old, as his were. Estimated cost of three new tanks: $64,000. "It's not feasible," Stewart said, noting his station's profit on a gallon of gasoline is about 3 cents. The threat of pollution, at least in this case, appears to have been over-estimated. According to Debi Stewart, when the three tanks were removed last week, there was no sign of leaks or contamination. The last vestige of the pumping business will be removed this week when the oil company shows up to remove the pumps themselves. In the meantime, footers have been poured for the car wash foundations, and the Stewart are anticipating setting up vacuum cleaner stations where the pumps used to be.

"Stewart's pass on the business to son"

Evening Tribune Article By Wendy Sherman

Doris Stewart looks on as her husband Harold congratulates their son Scott on taking over Stewart's Sunoco. Debi Stewart, right, Scott's wife also will be involved in the venture.
Hornell – Thirty years ago, after having worked for Foster and Wheeler and the Hornell Brewery, Harold Stewart, along with his wife Doris, decided to open a service station, and the rest is history. As o Nov. 1, Scott Stewart took over the family business so his parents could retire after holding the reins for 30 years.
It all began on June 19, 1960, when Stewart's Esso opened on the corner of Big Creek and Seneca Roads. The building was leased by the family. According to Doris Stewart, "It was open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Harold put in some long hours to get the business going." In 1975, the couple purchased the present business, located on Seneca Street, from Bud and Ira Ames. "We liked the old location but this was a chance for us to own a business instead of leasing one," Harold said.
When the couple purchased the Seneca Street location, they also took on their 24-hours a day," said Doris. The business, now known as Stewart's Sunoco, is open six days a week "because of the gas shortage" and closed most holidays, "but we're always on call," Harold said.
In 1978, the couple added on a car wash to the business where patrons can get their vehicles washed and waxed. "We really haven't made that many other changes but we've stayed in business and had loyal patrons," said Doris. The fact that the couple has managed to stay in business is a feat in itself when you consider the fact they are the only family-owned service station in the city. "We are the only independently owned full-service station in the city now. All the others have gone out of business," Scott Stewart said. Scott, who Harold said "cut his teeth on a gas knob" started working part-time at the station while he was still in high school. He graduated from high school in 1981, and then he attended Alfred State College at the Wellsville campus and graduated in 1983 from the auto mechanics curriculum. Since then he has worked fulltime at the station. "Our other children all went their own ways. Richard, Martin, Cindy, and Julie all followed their own path. Scott always was involved in the business and we are very confident about putting him in charge," Doris said. The fact that the business is still owned by the family gives the Stewarts a feeling of pride, since so many other businesses have fallen by the wayside. When asked what the secret was Harold said, "I had a good bookkeeper. The most unsuccessful businessmen are those who don't know how the business is doing financially, Doris always kept the books and kept me up to date on the business." Scott's wife, Debi, will be following in the shoes of Doris and will be keeping the books for the business. Harold told a few amusing stories of events that has happened over the years. "One night a young lady came in and told us her dome light wasn't working. She wanted to know if we had any batteries for it," he laughed. But his favorite story is about the night that "Dolly Parton borrowed my bedpan. She was at the Angelica Fair and they stopped at the Big Elms to eat. The air conditioner had quit on her bus so the mechanic came to the garage and borrowed our radiator pan (which they call a bedpan) to drain it." On a more serious note, Doris said the couple were grateful for all the patrons they've had in the 30 years of business and "we would like those same people to support Scott as well."

"Milestone for Stewart's in Hornell - 50 years on Seneca Streetl and going strong"

Evening Tribune Article By Tyler Briggs

Scott and Debi Stewart stand outside Stewart's Service on Seneca Street in Hornell. Photo: Lynn Brennan
From Stewart's Sunoco to now, Stewart's Service has been a main stay in the community for the last 50 years. "I think it's quite an accomplishment for a business to be able to do that," Scott Stewart said. "It's been harder and harder staying in business over the years." The name may have changed, but the business has always stayed in the family. Twenty years ago, Nov. 1, 1990, Scott and his wife Debi took over the business from Scott's parents, Harold and Doris Stewart. After being open for half a century, the business has undergone several changes. In 1960, Harold and Doris bought the Esso Service Station on the corner of Big Creek Road and Seneca Street. In 1966, it became an Exxon station. In 1974, the business moved to its current location at 188 Seneca Street and began offering a towing service. In 1990, Stewart's removed its gas pumps and replaced them with three carwash bays. In 2000, Stewart's began selling used vehicles. "It's changed tremendously since we opened," Scott said. Debi said state regulations have made it difficult for Stewart's to stay open, but the business has remained a constant fixture on Seneca Street. "It hasn't been easy," Scott said in agreement. "There's been good times, and there's been really bad times. We never had to lay off our employees." What keeps the Stewarts going? The customers, they said. "I had this guy come in yesterday and he remembered the day my dad opened up," Scott said. "He's been with us all these years. We have a very good following. We appreciate all our loyal customers." Alignments, batteries, brakes, exhaust systems, state inspections, and oil changes, Stewart's is truly a service station. With AAA towing, used-car sales and carwash bays, Stewart's is a one-stop center for all auto-related business. What's the future hold for Stewart's? In the short term the business is jumping onto the information super highway and launching a website soon. In the long term, the Stewarts aren't sure. Their infant grandson was playing around at the station, and they jokingly suggested he might take over Stewart's someday. "You never know," Debi laughed.

"It’s time to thank the Stewart’s for 63 years of service as they retire and a new owner takes over"

Hornell Sun Article by Steve Harrison

A family business for 63 years is being sold as Scott and Debi Stewart are ready for retirement. The popular service station has evolved over the years, but customer service never changed. Photo by Steve Harrison.

In 1960, gas was 31 cents a gallon. The service station attendant would come out when you ran over the hose that rang the bell inside the garage, greet you with a big smile and pump your gas as you stayed in your car.

They would have you pop the hood and check the fluids and even clean your windshield. That is what the service was like in 1960 at Stewart’s Service Station on Seneca Road in Hornell.

In the beginning, back 63 years ago, Stewart’s started as an Esso Station on the corner of Seneca Road and Big Creek Road, then an Exxon station six years later. In 1975, Harold and Doris Stewart would move to the current location on Seneca Street and it would remain there to this date.

Many times, a little 14-year-old kid working alongside his father Harold Stewart would be the one coming out to pump your gas for you. That younger kid, Scott Stewart, would remain inside the garage doors for the next 48 years of his life.

As the service station grew, the young kid grew as well. After graduation from Hornell High School, Scott elected to continue working in the family business as he had for the first years of his working life.

The hand of Scott Stewart has turned the tools for Stewart Service Station since he was 14 years old. Now, 48 years later he is closing his toolbox for the final time on Jan. 31 as he and his wife, Debi, start a new adventure called retirement. Photo by Steve Harrison.

Scott married the love of his life, Debi (Clark) Stewart who would also become a staple through the years through the window as you paid your bill. Having two boys, Brian and Jason, work in the garage as soon as they were old enough to get working papers was one of the many bright spots along the way for the family business.

As time went on, the boys decided to pursue different careers in life that left the two pillars of the family turning wrenches, sharpening the pencils and keeping the books for 48 years of owning the landmark service station.

Through the years there had been a few changes to the station. With all the government regulations for gas storage and costs increasing to maintain them to code, it was time to move on from supplying gas. About six months after the elimination of fuel, they opened the car wash with the space that once stood where cars would line up to fill their tanks.

In 1990, Harold decided it was time to retire and sell the business to Scott. For the next 32 years of owning the business, Scott and Debi knew at one point they would want to retire.

But they were never sure when that day would come. After all, for 48 years, they have walked through the same front door, The only certainty was knowing the end of a Stewart owning the business was coming to an end.

Over the summer, Scott said he was approached by someone asking if it was time for them to retire and if they would be willing to sell the business. They thought long and hard. Over the years, the station built up a reputation as a small, hometown business with friendly, reliable service. They made the change to stop selling gas, they became a AAA station, helping those in need when stranded and selling high-quality used cars. Through the ups and downs of the economy, they never laid off an employee.

Selling a business is easy. Preserving history and customer service at Stewart’s Service Station the way the family had done for 63 years is not.

With an offer for the business, the Stewart’s had many conversations over the next few months. But they felt a sense of comfort from the new owner. Scott and Debi decided after 48 years working, it was time to hang up the wrenches and close the books.

The Stewart’s and the Mullikin’s outside the business as the sale goes through. Photo by Steve Harrison.

The offer was from the Mullikin family. Dennis Mullikin, a former partner with Grey Manufacturing. Dennis said he has known the Stewart family for a long time and respects the reputation and quality service that the family had built over the years. He felt a new venture in life would be to continue the history of Stewart’s Service Station in the city of Hornell. His son, Jonathan Mullikin, will be the face of the business. He comes from the past 13 years with the Steuben County Sheriff’s office. When His father came to him with the idea of the new venture, Jonathan was totally on board. He said that if he could support his father and make things happen to progress in life as they wish, he is on board for any new venture.

The Stewart’s said if they could give any advice, it would be to remember this is a community with a small town feel and their success was built on quality of service.

The Stewart family has been helped with the transition and will stay on until Jan. 31. Dennis Mullikin said he wants to give them a big thank you for their help during the transition and what they have built over the years.

While some things change, some will stay the same. Eric Mattison who has been employed at Stewart’s for 21 years is staying on and Mike Strathearn, who joined the garage a year ago, will also remain.

Debi said she is excited for this new venture in their lives as Scott has a snowmobiling trip planned and they have a vacation lined up to Florida. You have until Jan. 31 to stop in and wish the two good luck in retirement.