LIHUE — A landlord dispute is forcing a three-decade-old business to service customers for the last time on Saturday.
“We fought real hard to find a new location, and it was a monumental battle we were unable to win,” said Steve Lewis, owner of Speedie Lube in Lihue. “At some point, you have to throw the towel in.”
Lewis declined to comment on the reason Speedie Lube was forced off the property owned by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
The foundation did not return requests for comment.
Open since 1987, Speedie Lube started as an oil change shop and later added safety check inspections and also became an outlet to dispose of used oil.
“When the competition couldn’t take care of the used oil, we spent the money and got the super drum,” Lewis said. “Right now we’re having to go all the way to Seattle, which is very expensive.”
The oil-change shop disposes about 30,000 gallons of oil per year and services 40 cars per day, Lewis said.
At one point, Speedie Lube had five employees, he added.
Billy Miller drove from the North Shore to have his car serviced on Wednesday. He was disappointed of the closure.
“It’s a bummer. They seem like a local business that’s well established and has different clientele,” he said. “And it’s not like there’s new industrial areas popping up in other parts of the island.”
Lewis said it would be too costly to reopen shop elsewhere.
“This is the end. This is my life. This is my career,” he said. “This is 30 years of trying to make something happen, taken away from me. It’s going to take a bit to recover.”
Marvin De Vera of Kalaheo, a steady customer at Speedie Lube, will miss the personal service of the business.
“Well, it’s sad because Steve’s guys were the best at what they do to serve customers that are pressed for time when it comes to having a simple service for their vehicles,” he said. “Some of the car dealerships now offer simple oil changes but it doesn’t have the same no nonsense, sit outside and talk story feel while your vehicle is being serviced.”
The closure will be a hardship on island residents, said Lisa De Silva of Kapaa.
“Most of the shops, you have to make an appointment. It takes them over an hour just to service your car,” she said. “At Speedie Lube it’s convenient because you can bring it in. Even though it’s first come, first served, you just need to be there early. It’s the convenience of once your car’s in there, you’re done.”
Miller’s in the same predicament.
“There’s some helpful guys in Kapaa and that’s a bit closer, but it takes longer and no one takes appointments for oil changes,” he said. “You might be behind someone that’s getting their transmission replaced. Here, there’s a list, but I can go and do other stuff, come back and get my car — instead of sitting on Kawaihau Road in my car.”
Times have changed and now customers have to look elsewhere for servicing their vehicles, De Vera said.
“I’m either going to have to find somebody or learn how to do it myself,” De Silva said. “We have two … but one point in time, we had four cars. Each one I would take over there.”
Lewis is thankful to his customers.
“I think we’ve done a lot to help,” he said. “I was the guy they went to, so they didn’t have to worry about (changing oil).”