BUCKTOWN — A taxi repair shop is lashing out at the ride-hailing industry with a banner declaring "pretentiousness wears a pink moustache" and distributing flyers that urge people to stop using the services.
Steven Lauria said his family's taxi repair business is down by 50 percent because fewer cab drivers are driving their vehicles often enough to need repairs.
The flyers, entitled "The Pink: The Rideshare Rebuttal," have been flying out of a pink metal box affixed to the fence at Larry's Service Center, 1834 N. Damen Ave., a taxi leasing and repair shop started by Lauria's grandfather Larry in 1950.
"We had 50 in here Friday. All gone," Steven Lauria said Monday.
Lauria's 22-year-old son Victor Bertocchi, who goes by the pen name "Mr. Bohemian," is the creative force behind the effort. The hard-to-ignore banner was installed earlier this month and faces Bucktown's Churchill Park.
Bertocchi wrote and designed the two-page rebuttal, which through creative language and anecdotes shows the impact that ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber have had on the taxicab industry.
One section asks the reader to imagine they are named Yellow Cab and playing a game of poker with Flash Cab, King Drive and Globe Taxi, and the crew is about to show their cards when "a pink-moustached gentlemen frantically pulls up a stool."
"The name's Rideshare" he smirks. "I'm all in," the man says before pulling his own cards from his own deck out of his pocket to win the round.
Rideshare walks off and says "new market, new rules" to the baffled players.
The brochure encourages readers to "shrink the pink" by uninstalling ride-hailing apps from their phones as well as "rethink the pink." It never uses the word Lyft but uses the brand's iconic hot pink mustache and pink colors.
Lyft spokesman Scott Coriell responded: "The reason that Lyft has been successful and grown rapidly in Chicago is not just because we offer a safe, affordable and convenient service. It’s also because we have opened doors of economic opportunity for tens of thousands of people. These opportunities did not exist four years ago."
Lauria's economic challenges as a taxi repair shop are reflected in a city list of hundreds of cabs that as of July 21 have either missed required inspections or not paid license renewal fees to the city.
Lauria noted recent reports of ride-hailing drivers committing crimes or being victims or violent crime, such as an alleged rape by a now-dismissed River North Lyft driver and the slaying of an Uber driver by a teen who attacked from the back seat.
"It's unbelievable. It seems like there is a bad story about crimes in rideshares at least every month in Chicago and every week on a national level. Our mayor, when it was time to fix this and require background checks [for ride-hailing drivers], he turned a blind eye," Lauria said.
Bertocchi, who also posted "The Pink" online, said the idea for the campaign started earlier this month when the Triton College theater major said he was "infuriated over the obvious obnoxiousness of rideshares" and needed a creative outlet for his frustration.
"If we cannot distinguish the pretentiousness of the pink mustache, then how can we distinguish more clever deceptions?" Bertocchi said.
Ismail Onay, a driver for City Service cab, said that he supports "rethink the pink."
"I am under water right now," Onay said of his financial situation.
The 19-year veteran of the cab business said he constantly hears passengers tell him how relieved they are that he knows where he is going.
"My customers say, 'I am glad I got you, you know the city better than Uber or Lyft.' They say to me, 'I am waving at them, they cannot see I am at the corner.' [Rideshare drivers] do what the GPS tells them and not their instincts," Onay said.
The Pink brochure by Mr. Bohemian. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]