LAKEWOOD RANCH -- John DaCosta has always been a car enthusiast and now he is turning his love for cars into a living.
DaCosta and his wife, Danielle, are opening River Club Car Wash, a state-of-the-art car wash off State Road 70 in East Manatee.
While the car wash, 5740 Ranch Lake Blvd., is expected to have its soft opening this week, it has been a long time coming.
Scott Pinkus, the previous owner of the car wash, planned to open last November, but he died unexpectedly in October. The DaCostas were already looking to open a similar car wash in Long Island, N.Y., where they live, so when they were contacted about the Lakewood Ranch car wash, they decided to open one in Florida.
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When they took over the car wash in December, it was 80 percent complete, John DaCosta said.
"It is a little surreal," John DaCosta said on Monday as he watched the finishing touches on the 3,500-square-foot car wash. "We never thought (about opening) here. I never stepped foot in Florida until this whole thing happened."
Unlike other car washes, River Club's system uses a conveyor belt instead of a track to propel vehicles through the wash cycle. Depending on speed, between 60 and 90 cars can
be washed every hour, John DaCosta said, adding that he hopes to have up to five River Club Car Washes in Florida.
"We want people to say 'We are going to River Club,'" he said. "It's that branding we are trying to do."
The washing system used at River Club, designed by Michigan-based Tommy Car Wash Systems, is the second of its kind in Florida.
The emphasis on service was one of the reasons the DaCostas were attracted to the car wash, Danielle DaCosta said.
"Every customer needs to feel that you are there for them," she said. "That they are the customer of the day. ... This is not just a car wash. More of enjoying the experience and not just the chore of having to get the car washed."
In addition to the exterior car washes, which take no more than five minutes from payment to completion, customers can use the self-service vacuums to clean the interior of the cars and purchase other cleaning supplies in onsite vending machines.
The car wash's hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Prices range from $6 for an express wash to $15 for the works. Monthly passes for unlimited washes are also available and range from $15 to $40 a month.
For more information, go to riverclubcarwash.com or call 941-751-4000.
Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.