The auto garage gets a clean, green makeover, thanks to a forward-thinking entrepreneur.
A car mechanic's shop tends to be heavy on greasy residue and testosterone fumes. So Luscious Garage, in downtown San Francisco, is a breath of fresh air in every sense: spotless surfaces, leafy green plants, sunshine pouring through skylights in the double-height ceilings. If she's not under the hood of a customer's Prius, owner and lead technician Carolyn Coquillette will greet you up front—as she has since 2007, when Luscious Garage became the first shop in the country to specialize exclusively in hybrid cars.
Coquillette, 32, isn't a born-and-bred gearhead. A physics and English major at the University of Michigan, she wandered between teaching jobs and nonprofit work after graduating in 2000. She also took a night course in auto repair. "Learning a trade and working with my hands was like a mental oil change," she says. "It was tangible and gratifying."
Luscious Garage relies on solar energy and filtered rainwater and is 100 percent paper-free (Coquillette's team designed software to manage customer accounts online). "There's this idea that getting your car fixed has to be a crummy experience," she says. "So why not imagine a place that's very green, very tech-savvy, but also pleasant?"