R&S Service Station
R&S Service Station
The R&S Service Station, sitting across Tiburon Boulevard from Tiburon Town Hall and the library, has now switched owners for the fourth time in its 64-year-history. John Wightman Everett recently sold his station to long-time employee Miguel Angel Lemus.
The history of this service station goes back to 1957 when contractors Marion Robinson and Russ Sharpe built the Chevron gas station and also used it as their office while building the Boardwalk Shopping Center. They named the station using their last name initials – R&S. Ten years later, Ray Coombes bought the business and came to be known for giving many local boys their first paying job.
Marv Lang and John Everett became the co-owners in 1991, buying the station from Ray Coombes’ widow. Ten years later, Marv sold his portion to John and retired, making John the sole owner.
John learned the trade by completing his college courses in automotive repair at Indian Valley College and Skyline College, paying his way by working in the summers as a firefighter with the California Division of Forestry. He decided against firefighting as a career because he says, “I don’t have what it takes to face people who are hurt.”
In 1978, after working at several gas stations and a transmission shop, John heard, via the grapevine, that R&S was looking for a mechanic. He got the job and stayed for the next 43 years.
“What I really like about this business is puzzling out what’s going on, why something’s not working and then figuring out how we can fix it,” he says.
John is known for being a “nice guy.” Example: The time a fellow needed help with a flat tire after everyone but John had left for the day. After John changed the tire, the man asked him, “How much do I owe you?” John’s answer was, “It will cost you doing a good turn for the next person.”
John has turned R&S into a station where integrity is the norm and, in doing so, he has built a staunch following of satisfied customers and brought the station a five-star rating on Yelp. The only complaint John says he has ever heard is that he does not sell gasoline.
Until 2005, the station had working gas pumps. However, when the landowner, Belvedere Land Company, realized the price tag to comply with the federal mandated environmental upgrade was $250,000, they opted to stop selling gas and have the building become simply a service station.
Over the years, R&S has had its share of “interesting” events. John says one that comes to mind is the day a local man called saying his car wouldn’t start, and he thought it was probably a dead battery. “When I got there, the car was parked on the street in front of his house,” John says, “so I opened the hood to check it out, and… no battery! It was gone! Someone had taken it overnight.”
About a year ago, John began thinking about retiring. “The kids are grown up (one son and two daughters), wife is gone, I figured it’s time to relax and enjoy myself,” he says. “We joked about it at the station for awhile, then got serious when Angel wanted to buy it.” John officially retired on April 1 but is still coming in to help Angel with the transition.
Angel came to Marin from Mexico City in 1986. His automotive training was at a Snap-On Tools program, and then he worked at Sonnen Motorcars, Marin Land Rover/Jaguar and Bianco Cadillac-Subaru before joining the crew at R&S 14 years ago.
Angel and his wife, Alexis, and their 14-year-old son, Miguel, live in Novato. His grown daughter lives in New York and works as a translator for a medical facility, and his brother “Rico” joined R&S shortly after Angel started there.
Currently, John is looking for a house in the Shasta area “Where,” he says, “I can fish, hike and read. I might even get a dirt bike again – I grew up on motorcycles – had my first one at age 15.” He also is looking forward to visiting his nine-months-old grandson, Kaden, in person. “He lives in Georgia,” John says, “and because of the pandemic, I’ve only seen him on Zoom.”
R&S Service Station
1515 Tiburon Boulevard