Iconic full-service car wash closing to make way for future use at Roosevelt Square

Iconic full-service car wash closing to make way for future use at Roosevelt Square
A local icon will shut its doors for good June 22 at its original location.

On Saturday, June 22, Charles Holt expects a busy and booming day of business at the Charles and George’s Car Wash. That’s because many of his longtime customers will stop by to say farewell to the popular full-service neighborhood car wash on its last day of business at Roosevelt Square Mall.

Holt and his brother, George, who passed away in 2009, originally established the business in 1980 on the site where the Chick-fil-A stands. They moved it in 1998 to its current location at the corner of Wabash Avenue and Lakeside Drive when Dewberry Capital revamped what was an aging indoor mall into the outdoor mall it is today.

Dewberry is currently in the process of completely renovating the mall, including removal of buildings, such as the former Belk store and now Charles and George Car Wash, to add multi-family residential and additional retail.

Initially, the landlord offered Holt a new spot on the property, where a small retention pond is located on the northeast corner near Fair Street and Appleton Avenue, but Holt said it would be too expensive to develop, less visible and rent would be higher. “We’ve been happy here, the landlord is a good landlord,” Holt said. “They’re smart and always maintained the mall well. We’ve always had a good relationship with them.”

Holt said the company has had a good run at the Roosevelt Square Mall location, the first of three full-service car washes he owns on the Westside. He reflected on 39 years at the local spot, where several generations of customers have been served by several generations of professional car washers.

“We’ve had three generations of employees washing cars for three generations of customers,” said Holt. “We’ve also been blessed with great managers over the years. In the car wash industry, for the full-service wash, it’s the people who make the difference. About 10 years ago we did a study and found we had more than 20 employees who had been with us for more than 10 years.”

About two-thirds of the employees will move over to the car wash at 1354 Cassat Ave. and the rest to the Orange Park location at 1405 Park Ave. so Holt doesn’t believe he’ll lose many customers. “Having a friendly face [wash your car] helps you not hesitate to ask for something.”

Holt began his career in the car wash industry in 1968 with one of the industry’s early pioneers, George Lindley, who opened his first car wash in 1952 at the foot of the Main Street Bridge. He then opened one in the Stockton Street area of Riverside and another in St. Nicholas, where Holt worked until he decided to open his own business in 1980 with his brother.

When asked whether there will be anything special planned for the last day of business at the corner of Wabash and Lakeside, Holt paused. Visibly moved and with a tear in his eye, he said, “We’ll be sad.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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