Customers rejoice as K’s Auto Repair reopens in Mineola
Kevin Thomas had just returned home from work when he got a call no business owner ever wants to receive—the fire alarm at his shop, K’s Auto Repair on Willis Avenue had gone off. He jumped in his car and returned to work, and for the next 12 hours, watched his shop burn down.
“It wasn’t one of my better days,” Thomas recalls.
A fire on March 2 destroyed the shop at 74 Willis Ave., not only consuming the building, but 23 of Thomas’ personal cars, six customer cars, three Boars Head trucks and Thomas’ dog, who lived at the shop.
It was a devastating incident, Thomas said, but now, the beloved Mineola auto shop owner is back in business with a new location on Jericho Turnpike.
“I wasn’t going out like that,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t going to retire like that. The day I don’t want to come here anymore, then I’ll know I’m finished. I still have too many things I want to accomplish.”
Thomas, who has been in business 40 years, said he still has too many people he wants to help before he permanently closes up shop. And there are plenty of customers looking for his mechanical finesse; before opening the new shop, he said his phone was ringing off the hook, with customers wanting to see how he was doing and if he would be opening again.
Mineola resident Marianne Warnock said she couldn’t be happier that Thomas decided to re-open.
“I’m very happy he decided not to retire under these sad circumstances,” said Warnock, who has been a customer at K’s Auto for 25 years. “He is a great guy and an honest businessman and in that field, sometimes that’s hard to find.”
For Thomas, fixing people’s cars is a labor of love, a passion that stems from his desire to help those in need.
“I put my heart into this. I like helping people,” Thomas said. “My father always said, ‘if you do the right thing, you won’t have to worry about getting paid, the money will just arrive.’”
And though he’s only been at the new location for three weeks, business has been steadily increasing. When he first opened, he was seeing an average of six cars a day, now, with the addition of a new sign and working phone-line, that number is up to 10 a day.
Thomas’ new shop at 263 Jericho Tpke. is significantly smaller than his old location, but Thomas said it’s more manageable than the old workspace.
“We’ve downsized and it’s a little more congested, but in the same respect, I think God was trying to send me a signal,” Thomas said. “He was trying to tell me, ‘you’ve expanded too much, you either retire or expire.’ This is nice because it’s workable. I don’t have the crazy stress of things going on in every different direction.”
Thomas’ customers have shown him an enormous outpouring of support, stopping by to drop off not only their cars, but dessert, lunch and well wishes for him and his crew.
“I think that I speak for all of Kevin’s customers when I say that we are all really happy to hear K’s Auto is back in business,” said customer John Lane. “Kevin and his staff are ridiculously competent, really a rare thing nowadays when it comes to auto service. There is a reason why K’s Auto has customers, myself included, for 25 years and more.”