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Candee brings car service to area

Lewisboro residents considering hiring a car service for a night on the town or a trip to the airport now have another option — using a new local company, R. Lucas Drivers, which will take them where they want to go in their own car, saving money and providing lots of flexibility.

“In theory, it’s a simple enough question. If I own a car do I really ever need to hire a car service?” said Chris Candee, who co-owns the year-old business.

South Salem native Chris Candee started R. Lucas Drivers, a car service that is used by clients in Westchester and Fairfield counties, as well as Monmouth County in New Jersey. (Photo courtesy of Chris Candee)

“Everyone has a car, so why pay for the driver and the car when all you really need to pay for is the driver? This idea is behind R. Lucas Drivers, the company I formed with my partner. We provide drivers to chauffeur people wherever they want or need to go in the metropolitan area.”

Safety is another issue for Mr. Candee. “When you go out for a good time with friends, you don’t have to worry about driving home after imbibing a bit,” he said. “One of our drivers will take you to the party or event in your car, stay with it, and then pick you up and take you home.”

Starting out

Mr. Candee, a Lewisboro native, worked for many years in his family’s restaurant business before coming up with the idea for R. Lucas Drivers.

“My parents moved here when I was in third grade and my brother and I grew up on Bouton Road in South Salem,” he told The Ledger. “I attended Lewisboro Elementary School and graduated from John Jay High School in 1988. I went on to SUNY (State University of New York) at Albany, getting my degree in 1992.”

Mr. Candee, who now lives in Ridgefield, said he enjoyed his many years living in Lewisboro, where his family kept two llamas as backyard pets. “This was something a bit different in our neighborhood,” he said.

After working long hours in Manhattan, Mr. Candee was diagnosed with cancer and had to stop working to get treatment.

“Thankfully, I am still here several years later, but decided to make a career change because of some physical limitations. I got a job as a driver for a small business like the one I eventually started. After doing some driving of couples and their friends to different events around the area, I saw the possibilities and struck a deal with my partner to start R. Lucas Drivers. We formed the partnership about a year ago, and so far the response has been great.”

Getting there and back

Mr. Candee said about two-thirds of his business comes from people who want to enjoy their day or evening to the fullest, without worrying about getting from place to place or driving home in the wee hours.

“One of the things I like about this business is that we keep people safe,” he said. “When you use our service, no one has to worry about who the designated driver will be. Everyone gets to have a good time and gets home safely.”

Mr. Candee frequently gets requests for a driver to chauffeur two or even three couples for the evening in their SUV, which creates a fun and relaxed atmosphere right from the start and also saves them money. “Our hourly rate is $35,” he said. “It is always the same no matter how many passengers there are, and the gratuity is always included. The customer, of course, buys gas and pays any tolls.”

Aside from travel to local restaurants or parties at private homes, Manhattan is a popular destination.

“People love to use us to go into the city,” Mr. Candee said. “They don’t have to deal with the hassle of traffic and parking and love being dropped off right at the door of their destination. Customers use us to go to restaurants, shows, sporting events, clubs, even shopping. We often have multiple destinations in one trip. The driver always stays with the car, parking it in a safe and legal spot.”

The remaining one-third of Mr. Candee’s business is taking people to and from local airports. “The savings are substantial when compared to a traditional car or limo service, often 40% to 50%,” he said. “Families with young children also love the convenience of having their own car seats, favorite radio stations, and DVD players already in place.”

One-way rates for Lewisboro residents are $65 to or from Westchester Airport, $105 for LaGuardia, $115 for JFK, and $130 to or from Newark Airport. The gratuity is always included in every rate and tolls are the customer’s responsibility.

R. Lucas Drivers currently serves clients throughout Westchester and Fairfield counties, as well as Monmouth County in New Jersey. “A reservation is required to secure a personal driver,” he said. “With a few days’ notice we can provide a driver practically anywhere in our service area. In Lewisboro, we have several drivers now at the ready to serve customers.”

Mr. Candee does some of the driving himself and says he has not had a single negative experience or complaint. “People are happy with the service and out to enjoy themselves. Some that are friendly will draw me into the conversation in the car, while others will not. It’s up to them to decide, and either is fine with me.”

Mr. Candee selects all of his drivers himself to make sure they are up to his standards. “I am a good judge of character and know what my customers want,” he said. “Each driver must pass a thorough driver’s license check as well as a background check. Beyond these safety requirements, I place a premium on their being reliable, on time, and always courteous.” R. Lucas Drivers maintains its own liability insurance.

Mr. Candee said he wants to grow his business carefully over time, with repeat customers and good referrals of primary importance.

“I believe this is a valuable service to our communities,” he said. “It’s a commonsense way to provide personal transportation at a reasonable price.”

For information or reservations, call 877-RLUCAS1 (758-2271) or visit rlucasdrivers.com.

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