Napa has restaurants and wine tasting rooms galore, but according to businessman Jack Anthony III, the city is “woefully underserved” when it comes to one particular service: automated car washes.
If Anthony gets his way, he’ll open a state-of-the-art, drive-through 7 Flags car wash, the likes of which Napa County has never seen.
We’re talking three pay lanes, a see-through roof and windowed walls providing an “open and airy,” experience, a conveyor belt that carries your car into its bath and service offerings including the “Lava Shield,” “Waterfall Rinse” and “Bug Prep”.
“We think we have something the city of Napa would be very pleased to have,” said Anthony. “It’s a perfect fit.”
Anthony’s vision would be built on one of Napa’s main gateways, at 459 Soscol Ave., across the street from the Napa Toyota dealership. He recently filed a pre-application with the city to review his proposal.
“We’ve been trying to get into Napa for the past five years,” said Anthony. The problem is, “You need about an acre of property. There are very few places (in Napa) that are large enough and have the right demographics.”
By demographics, he means the number of locals who live nearby, as well as good visibility. Easy entry and exit are also a must.
“It has to be convenient,” said Anthony of the car wash facility, “so it becomes a part of your daily routine. That’s the whole purpose.” That’s why well-traveled Soscol Avenue is so desirable, he said.
Anthony’s not new to the car wash business. His family opened the first 7 Flags car wash in Vallejo in 1964. The company used to fly seven different flags at its car washes, he said, explaining the name. Since opening, the Vallejo-based company has grown to include 13 car washes, with a 14th under construction. Those are found mostly in Solano County, but also in Contra Costa and Sacramento counties.
“This is a family-run business,” now on its third generation, he said. Anthony’s sons are now the president and vice president of the company, he said.
The Soscol Avenue car wash would be their first Napa County operation. But to Anthony, “We’re local. We’re right next door.”
The Napa 7 Flags car wash would showcase the Tommy Car Wash System, which includes automated cashiers and other computer-driven technology, he said. Free vacuums and mat cleaners are also provided. “It’s very efficient,” the businessman said.
“It’s a modern, attractive building,” said Anthony. When it comes to such car washes, “It’s nothing like anybody’s seen before.”
Compared to a traditional full-service car wash that can require as many as 40 to 50 employees, the Tommy system only requires about a dozen, he said. That doesn’t mean Anthony will skimp on staffing.
“That’s not how you run a professional car wash,” he said.
He’s aware of the stereotype of a car wash as a dirty, dingy place.
“I get it,” he said of the stigma. “But hey, take a look at what we’re doing. If you don’t think this is appropriate, I would like to know what is.”
When asked about opening a car wash during a drought, Anthony explained that 7 Flags automated car washes use less than 20 gallons of water to wash a car. To compare, washing a car at home can use more than 80 gallons, he said.
Plus, “We recycle all of our water.” That recycled water is then combined with fresh water for future washes. Remaining wastewater is also treated before it goes into the sewers, he noted.
According to Anthony, it’s been many years since a new automated car wash facility has opened in the city.
“We’re bringing something to Napa,” that locals will surely appreciate.
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You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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