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@Work: Y-B Dirty Car Wash and Y-B Hungry Fast Food

July 23, 2006 — Saturday is prime time at Y-B Dirty Car Wash and Y-B Hungry Fast Food. That's the day most people show up to get their vehicles washed and waxed while they sit in the shade to enjoy barbecue chicken and ribs with potato salad and seasoned rice.
The husband and wife team of Jesus and Yania Carmona opened the car wash on Hospital Street near Gallows Bay with help from family members in 2004. A year later, they decided to fill a demand and since then have been enticing car wash patrons to fill their hunger needs while they wait for their cars to be cleaned.
"People would leave their cars and say they were going to get something to eat and come back." Yania said, "So my husband decided why not open a restaurant. Besides, it's always been his dream to have his own restaurant."
Jesus is the former manager of King's Alley Hotel and, 10 years ago, co-owned the Spurs restaurant in Barren Spot.
He said that the partnership was a challenge, one business lesson that he vowed to never forget.
"A partnership can be good thing, but it can also be a bad thing," he said, declining to go into details. "For some people, single ownership is best and this is what's working for me."
Still, he says, this too has its challenges.
"I was just complaining that I spend too much time here," he said, after putting in another 18-hour day at the job.
"When you can't get dependable employees, you have to do it all yourself," he said.
At the car wash, Jesus hires workers who do most of the washing and waxing, but he and his wife do the cooking.
Yania is studying education at the University of the Virgin Islands and works between classes on weekdays. But Saturdays, the busiest day of the week, she is at Y-B full time, attending to chicken and ribs slow roasting in an outside smoker.
She said that on Saturdays she goes through four to eight heads of cabbage, 40 pounds of chicken, four to eight slabs of ribs and several pots of rice and corn on the cob. The menu also includes fried chicken wings, hot dogs, salmon and veggie burgers with French fries, smoothies and sodas for those who want a quick snack.
The smoker, the couple's largest investment, cost nearly $4,000, but Jesus said it was worth it.
"This is what people come here for on Saturdays – slow cooked ribs and barbecue chicken," he said, as he and his wife tended to a large slab of ribs. On any given day it's regular spare ribs – beef or pork – and other days they serve baby back ribs.
Jesus says that business is good but isn't always consistent. What has kept him afloat, he said, is the fact that the loan he got to open the business came from family members.
"We both got help from family, but my wife's family was extremely generous," he said. "It's hard to get a small business loan, especially for a restaurant, because the life span of a restaurant that's not doing good is about three years, and I think the banks realize this."
Jesus said first-time business owners should look towards family members for help for a good reason.
"If you get financed by family, you can always talk to them if things aren't going to well," he said, "but with a bank, they want the loan repaid when they say it has to be repaid."
The Carmonas are already looking ahead to see how best they can utilize more space at their Hospital Street location.
In two months there will be changes, he said.
"We've decided to add a barbershop, and we will get the necessary equipment, like the chairs and stuff, and we can lease it to people with a barber's license," he said. "So a man will be able to come in here, have his hair cut, have his car washed and fill his stomach with good food."
The restaurant is opened 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To reach the Carmonas, call 719-9229.
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