Mike Marriott (pictured) is retiring from Marriott’s Garage. In 1998 the business out grew the downtown location and Marriott built a new and bigger building on East Santa Fe St. where the shop is located today. Photo courtesy of Marriot Garage
Special to The Gardner News
After 37 years of serving the community, Mike Marriott is hanging up his blue collared mechanic’s shirt for good. Marriott Garage has served Gardner and surrounding area for 71 years.
Marriott Bros. Garage was first established in 1949 by Mike’s father, George Marriott and uncle, Pat Marriott. The two brothers were from a large Catholic family and grew up on the family farm north of town. Both brothers helped “hand dig” Gardner Lake in the 1930s as workers in the WPA project. Pat and George Marriott volunteered soon after the Pearl Harbor ambush in December 1941 and served overseas in WWII. After returning from service, and starting families the two young men decided to go into business together and opened their mechanic shop on the corner of Park and Elm streets.
George Marriott passed away from Leukemia in 1969. Pat continued the business with his wife Mary until 1983. Mike Marriott had aspirations of becoming an aircraft mechanic and had begun studying the trade. Pat knowing his brother’s son had a knack for mechanic work approached him about taking over the shop.
With the help from friends and family, Mike made the shop his own, adding a wrecker and tow service. In 1998 the business outgrew the downtown location, and Marriott built a new and bigger building on East Santa Fe St. where the shop is located today.
“I was out here before Walmart!” Mike said about his neighbor across the street.
“It’s kind of emotional for me,” Mike said his final week at his mechanic shop. With heavy heart and many memories at 68 years old, Mike Marriott is ready to relax and spend time with friends and family. An avid hunter and fisherman, he said he looks forward to his retirement.
Mike worked hard to find a new shop owner who would appreciate his customers and employees as much as he does. Marriott believes he found this fair and honest candidate in Jeff Ralston of Auto Doctors. Marriott said, “I wish Jeff and his team success in their new Gardner location for many years to come.”
Friends, employees, and some family members were shocked when Marriott announced this was his final week. “I wanted to tell people, but not wanting to jump the gun, I held the news under my hat until I knew it was a done deal,” Marriott said.
Many customers, and former employees shared sentiments on Facebook and by phone, and many stopped by the shop to wish him well his final work week.
Scott Bell of Bell Carpet Cleaning said, “Mike has bailed me out of so many problems over the years, I’ve lost count. I sure appreciate all Mike has done for me, my family and Bell Carpet Cleaning. I may have closed Bell Carpet Cleaning years ago without his help.”
“I could always depend on Mike’s knowledge and honesty when it came to repairing my car,” said Rhonda Humble, Gardner News. “With his help I coaxed 400,000 miles out of a 99 Subaru. He will be missed by all. “
Friend and customer, Bill Danner congratulated Mike on his retirement and said, “He’s been a great member of the community and a loyal friend.” Former employee, Jesse Sosebee reminisced, “I worked for Mike for quite a few years. Kelly Knauss (fellow mechanic and current employee) always called Mike ‘the Pope’ and for good reason.”
Sept. 25, 2020 was Mike Marriott’s last day. Jeff Ralston from Auto Doctors will be taking over Marriott Garage the following Monday.