By Rich Bockmann
When Gleason’s auto repair shop on Bell Boulevard closed down in December — seemingly overnight — customers were left scratching their heads and wondering where to go to have their vehicles’ head gaskets replaced.
And as abruptly as it was emptied nearly two months ago, the lot on the block between 35th Avenue and 34th Road started filling up Monday with the grand opening of Bayside Auto Repair & Collision.
Owner Ralph Zargarov said he never met the building’s former tenant, but was told by his landlord that the owner of Gleason’s Super Automotive Service failed to pay several months’ rent.
“I spoke with the landlord. He said it was available and I took it,” said Zargarov, who goes by the name “Ralphie” and also owns the Elite Auto Center repair shop and used car dealership in Great Neck, L.I.
Aside from a somewhat unwelcoming building interior, Zargarov said he also inherited many of Gleason’s’ abandoned customers.
“They call all the time,” he said. “I’ve been getting calls from them ever since I put the sign up.”
With cars already on the shop’s lift this week, Zargarov oversaw a crew of workers who were renovating the office’s waiting and rest rooms, which he said he were in such unkempt condition that they needed to be completely redone from floor to ceiling.
“We’re going to make everything nice for the people to wait around here,” he said. “Everything’s going to look really good.”
The shop services all makes and models, including Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs, said Zargarov, who brings with him an expertise in air-conditioning repair.
The Israeli native said that before immigrating to the United States in 1986, he was recognized as the No. 1 air-conditioning repairman in his district.
“I used to build air conditioners in Israel. Back then, cars used to come without air conditioning. I would put the whole thing together — the condenser, the evaporator — you’d buy all the parts separate, build it and install the whole thing,” he said.
For more information, call Bayside Auto Repair & Collision, at 34-48 Bell Blvd., at 718-281-4333 or 718-281-4343.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.