Now reopened: Lehmans Garage

TANGLETOWN — A year after the historic Lehman’s Garage at 5431 Lyndale Ave. S. was demolished, a new, state of the art and more energy efficient Lehman’s building is now open for business.

Weeks after the new facility opened in late October, CEO Karen Cossette and President Darrell Amberson stood in the lobby and looked at photos of the old building. One, taken in 1928, 11 years after Lehman’s first opened for business, shows Lyndale Ave. as little more than a gravel strip.

Another, taken in the ‘50s, showed vehicles that look straight from Mad Men in front of a façade similar to the one that stood at the corner of 54 & Lyndale for over 90 years.

“During the depression, things were so quiet around here that [the Lehman kids] would often go out and play softball on the street,” Amberson said. “And when a car came by they’d be offended.”

Things have certainly changed at the Tangletown Lehman’s, which now features state of the art machinery and a more open, well-lit 19,000 square-foot building.

“Before, you had to go up a couple stairs to come into the estimating room,” Amberson explained. “You had to walk through the mechanical area to get to the waiting room, and it wasn’t the best design for today’s world.”

He went on: “We’ve brought in more light and made our operations more energy efficient and green.”

The rebuilt Lehman’s — which still offers both auto body and mechanical repair services — features more energy efficient heating, air conditioning and lighting and exclusively uses waterborne paints, which are less toxic than their more-often used solvent-based brethren.

The reopening of Lehman’s flagship Tangletown in late October ended a tumultuous year for the company. Although the 54th & Lyndale location was closed for a year, no workers were laid off. Instead, Tangletown staffers were reassigned to one of Lehman’s five other locations throughout the metro.

Now, all of those workers are back, and then some — Amberson said Lehman’s hired three new employees as the company continues to bounce back from the recession.

Lehman’s is celebrating the new building with a grand reopening celebrating on Nov. 17 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event features live jazz, food and refreshments, giveaways, tours of the shop and guest appearances.

Right around the time reconstruction work began, Lehman’s was awarded a Better Business Bureau Integrity Award. That award, Amberson said, symbolized that while Lehman’s building might be new, the business’ commitment to customer service remains the same as it was when Lyndale Ave. was a street softball hotbed.

“People are what it’s all about, both internally and externally,” Amberson said. “We often say that cars are easy and people are tough — what I mean is that it’s important to please them and have them trust us.”

— Reach Aaron Rupar at arupar@mnpubs.com. On Twitter at @atruparJournals.