Sat12202014

News

Longtime First Street auto shop closing in April

A First Street business familiar to longtime Los Altos residents will soon be closing its doors for good.

California Automotive Service owners Alan and Amanda Pickett told the Town Crier that they’re closing their business after calling 139 First St. home for more than 20 years. The auto shop is tentatively scheduled to close at the end of April. Alan, who began working as a mechanic at the shop 25 years ago before taking over as its owner 10 years later, noted that he and his wife chose to close the longtime business after “some opportunities presented themselves.”

He politely declined to provide more specific information about the circumstances leading to the closure of his business. Regardless, Alan said, he and his family will miss the downtown area – a place he considers a second home.

“It’s bittersweet, definitely,” said Alan, who proudly recalled serving past and current councilmembers, well-known business owners and local residents among his customers throughout his career. “We’re grateful for the time we’ve had here. We’ve met a lot of really nice people who have really touched our lives.”

The Picketts readily conceded having “mixed feelings” about the end of the downtown mainstay – located directly across from the new Safeway grocery store construction. Alan noted that he recently accepted a position at an automotive shop in Rio Vista, where the family has lived for 18 years. The change, Amanda added, allows her family to eliminate the grind of commuting 97 miles each way on a daily basis.

“One thing I won’t miss is getting up at 3:15 in the morning,” she quipped.

But Amanda added that her family would certainly miss the shop’s longtime customers the most, because she’s seen two, and in some cases even three, generations of families enter through their doors seeking auto repairs. Those customers, she said, hold a special place in her heart in part because they’ve seen 17-year-old Christopher – the couple’s son – grow up in front of them as well.

“He’s been here since the day he was born,” Amanda said of her son, who will graduate from high school this spring before joining the U.S. Navy. “This was his play yard.”

“Every customer who comes in here, the first question they always ask us is, ‘How’s Christopher?’” Alan said. “It’s a pretty special relationship we have with them.”

Despite some tougher business times in the past couple of years – which the couple partially attribute to ongoing construction along First Street, including the city’s streetscape project – the Picketts noted that they’re proud of the business they built and sustained, calling it “one of the last mom-and-pop shops in town.”

“Los Altos is just the cutest little town,” Amanda said. “So this is definitely hard. We have so many customers who we see as our own family.”

For more information, visit californiaautomotiveservice.biz.

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