CORONA DEL MAR — Around the corner from the Frisbee rack, on the other side of the California Lottery machine, rested some glass vases with bouquets of lilies and other fresh flowers.
The juxtaposition caught Frank Arriola by surprise. When he walked into Corona del Mar's Korker Liquor to get his daily Lotto ticket, as he has been doing for years, he asked the clerk about the flowers.
Did someone crash into the window and apologize?
No, the young clerk told him. They were there for the clerk's father, Daniel Yegenian, the store's owner who died Oct. 31 from heart failure.
Arriola, a body-builder over 6 feet tall, was choked-up.
"I called him Pops," he said. "He was an icon. I thought he'd be here for the rest of my life."
Yegenian, who died at 59, was a quintessential immigrant business owner, beloved by his customers.
He came to California from Lebanon in 1979. First, he bought a Shell Gas Station in La Mirada, operating it for 18 years. Then, about seven years ago, he purchased Korker, a Corona del Mar institution.