Cairas offer three generations of service in Elmwood Park
Frank Caira, a mechanic at Caira Super Service, works on an air conditioner compressor. The service shop has been in business for 50 years and Caira is the third generation working at the shop. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 19, 2012 1:18PM
ELMWOOD PARK — After 50 years at the same location, working with family on a daily basis, Caira Super Service Inc., isn’t your average automotive repair shop.
Since Frank and Josephine Caira opened the business at 7835 W. Belmont Ave. in Elmwood Park in 1962, if someone wanted to find Frank Caira Sr., all they had to do was go to his auto repair shop/gas station. He spent long hours repairing cars, and his wife Josephine, also known as “Mama Jo,” wasn’t too far behind.
“It was a very small gas station,” she said. “Just two bays and one (car) lift.”
She would pump gas while her husband worked on cars. Even having the couple’s first child, Frank Caira Jr., didn’t keep her from helping out. They later had two more sons, Tony and Christopher.
“I would stick him (Frank Jr.) inside two tires,” she said. “That was his playpen.”
Over the years, the business became a focal point of the Cairas’ lives. Frank Caira Jr. worked at the shop as a kid and now runs its daily operations. His father, now 74 years old, has retired, but he’s still around.
“He loves coming here,” Frank Caira Jr. said. “My dad is still the master in my eyes. He would amaze me with the stuff that he knew.”
Frank Sr. didn’t make his son, now 54 years old, take up the family business, but instead tried to talk him out of it.
“I love fixing cars,” Frank Caira Jr. said. “There’s real satisfaction in finding whatever’s wrong with a car and repairing it.”
Now his two sons – Peter Caira, 21, and Frank Caira III, 24 – have joined the family business, ignoring their father’s reservations, just as he did.
“I told them they could do anything they wanted to do,” Frank Caira Jr. said.
Both sons went to school at Triton College to become certified automotive technicians. Caira teaches automotive repair part-time at Triton, and both his sons took his class. He admits he was harder on them than his other students.
“I enjoy working on cars, dealing with the customers,” Frank Caira III said. “I like the family atmosphere and working with my dad.”
Peter Caira shares the sentiment.
“I like working here with my family,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine not working here with my father and my brother. This kind of keeps us closer together and stronger more than anything.”
Josephine Caira said that sense of family has had customers coming back for years. Judy McCarthy has taken her cars to be serviced by the Caira’s for 40 years. She said there’s only one reason she and her husband keep bringing their cars back.
“Because I trust them,” she said. “Started with their dad and now they have two sons working there. I told their mother, they must have oil in their blood.”
Sister Kay Manley, who has taught at Guerin Prep High School for 20 years, said she has patronized Caira Super Service for almost seven years.
“I heard good referrals so I thought I’d try them out,” she said. “They were very accommodating. I’d drop my car off there and they’d drop me off at school.
“Janine is very welcoming and Frank always comes out to tell me what needs to be done,” she said. “He’s very honest and very upfront.”