Rich Munchgesang has been in the auto repair business for 17 years – most of which he worked at the University Service Station in Stony Brook, which was around for 47 years before it closed in June.
Now, Munchgesang has re-opened the shop in that location as Munch Repair Service.
"I’m so happy to have them back. They closed and we were nervous," said Terry Holtzman of Stony Brook. "We didn’t know where we’d go, with four cars in the household and two Vespas. I literally was panicking when [they] were closing. It was such a scary thing."
Munchgesang, who grew up in Selden, said business has been busy since re-opening. His focus is on general maintenance and factory repairs. Though the shop does not currently do New York State inspections, he said he is working on getting the means to do so; wheel alignment equipment is also on the way.
"The problem with cars nowadays is they don’t break down enough to support a lot of shops," he said. "If all you want to do is fix broken stuff, it’s not going to work. And if you keep up on your maintenance, you’re not going to have any breakdowns."
The Getty gas station has re-opened too, with the new management bringing back its longtime employee Mustafa. But the gas station is separate from the repair business, though the building is owned by Getty Realty.
Among the challenges Munchgesang faces as a new business owner: beyond the actual repairs themselves, the ebb and flow of business can sometimes be a concern, plus the administrative side of things.
"Even when there’s not a lot to do, there’s work to do. Paperwork, getting this stupid computer to work," he said. "All these things I didn’t think about before. Insurance, signs, there’s so many things. I have all the equipment, all the tools, but there’s a lot more to it."
He said his approach to his business isn't the "hard sell" way of doing things.
"People get nervous about car repairs because they don’t understand it," he said. "... I like the come-in-and-look-at-it way. I can show you the old brake pads and show you the new ones."
He invites the community to come in and meet him.
"I think mechanics have kind of a reputation as being rough and annoyed, but I’m not like that," he said. "I’m a pretty laid back, happy guy."