Thursday, 14 September 2017 16:00

An Island in Wrigleyville, IL

Written by Mauricio Peña, Chicago Magazine
Greg Resendiz, shop manager, looks out at throngs of Cubs fans on an August afternoon.   Greg Resendiz, shop manager, looks out at throngs of Cubs fans on an August afternoon. PHOTOS: MAURICIO PEÑA


Inside, classic rock and Mexican ranchera music blare in separate rooms as two auto body workers and one painter prep, prime and complete modifications on three separate cars. With six cars in the shop, it’s a slower day for the crew.

Gabriel Alanis, 40, applies Bondo, a putty-like body filler, on a dented driver-side door, smoothing several layers over the damaged area, while Xavier Nauta, 28, meticulously wipes particles from a black Infiniti sedan before spraying a clear coat of paint to ensure a gloss finish.

In another room, Jose Felix, 56, adds insulation between a door panel, tapping the outside of the door, listening for the hollow sound to go away. Felix has worked at Luis’s Body Shop for about 26 years, and says the longevity of the business comes from the perfectionism that Jose Luis’s father expected. 

“He wanted people to be happy, and he wanted us to do everything right,” Felix says in Spanish. “That expectation hasn’t changed. That’s why the shop is still around.”

Even while acknowledging the high caliber of work expected at the shop, Felix knows the shop isn’t immune to the changes happening outside.

“Things have changed, and we’ll see how much longer we will be here,” he says. “The big fish eat the little fish.”

“Our humble little shop”

Luis’s Auto Shop, along with its neighbor Sports World, is now an island amid larger development projects. Jose Luis says he’ll keep doing business in this red-brick building for now. But how much longer? He isn’t sure. 

“The property taxes keep going up,” he says. That’s made it far more difficult to pay the bills, buy supplies, and pay his workers; his father’s former apartment upstairs was converted into an office space that they rent out for additional income.

“We are here for at least another year, and then after that we’ll see what happens,” Jose Luis says. After 51 years with the same shop name, location, and phone number, he hopes the reputation and customers follow should they decide to leave the neighborhood.

While the elder Resendiz will make the final decision when, and if, the shop leaves the Wrigleyville universe, Greg remains optimistic. 

“We’re glad to be at this location,” he says. “We’ll be so lucky to be here another 50 years. This is our humble little shop in the middle of everything.”

We thank Chicago Magazine for reprint permission. 

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