First ultra green garage opens in SF

January 23, 2008 1:38:24 PM PST
The Bay Area may have to rethink what a mechanic looks like and what the local auto repair shop does -- now that the first ultra green garage is open in San Francisco.

The Luscious Garage is a very different kind of place. One of the definitions of luscious is that it is appealing to the senses or the mind. Outside the Luscious Garage hangs a car tire with plants growing from it. The garage is paperless, spotless -- it's a recycling mecca -- in short you could call the whole garage a green machine.

The focus in the garage is on hybrids, cars that are exciting to environmentalists and to auto technicians. Doubly exciting to environmentalists who are auto technicians, like Luscious Garage owner and master technician Carolyn Coquillette.

"We're not old school, we're new school and certainly if you're an environmentalist then that's why you are driving that car and maybe able to reflect those kinds of priorities at the shop," said Carolyn Coquillette, owner & master technician.

Luscious offers standard and specialty services, such as plug in hybrid conversion, which can more than double the mileage of a standard hybrid.

"We like to think of ourselves as the Whole Foods of garages," said Carolyn Coquillette.

There are lots of house plants here, there's a reason for that.

"You're going to have some amount of emissions that are coming off the oil vapors. This is digesting vapors and putting out oxygen," said Carolyn Coquillette.

Continuing on down the green checklist: Biodiesel instead of more noxious chemicals to clean parts - check; recycling rubber wiper blade inserts and belts - check; paperwork - no check there, because this place is paperless. A picture of you holding a white board with the estimate written on it constitutes a work order. You also won't find aerosols or male mechanics. They had one for a while but:

"He didn't work out. He was buying brake cleaner behind my back," said Carolyn Coquillette.

Recycled oil - check; not that regular old school fluids aren't used sometimes, because they are.

"At some point you have to have transmission fluid from Honda, can't do anything about that," said Carolyn Coquillette.

Something else you'll find that you won't find at other garages is -- artwork. All of the art is for sale, but if you prefer you can just look at it as you wait for an oil change.

How about customers? Check -- Luscious has watched its client base grow in its first six months.

"The dealerships are great but they are not as friendly and personal as they are here and you certainly don't see the stimulating art work, you don't see the plants and so forth that you see here," said Randy Reisinger, Luscious Garage customer.

One last thing, in the waiting area, the floor tile is made of recycled tires, quite possibly greener than any other garage on the planet? Check.

The sign outside the shop has a wrench on top of a green leaf, and that tells you everything you need to know about Luscious Garage. For those of you wondering where the name Luscious came from, it's been Carolyn Coquillette's nickname since she got into auto mechanics, eight years ago.


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