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What’s in store: Uptown Auto Specialist

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Thirty-three years ago, Paul Cosma opened Uptown Auto Specialist (501 River Road, Jefferson, 504-866-8392; www.myuptownauto.com) in the Riv- erbend section of New Orleans behind Cooter Brown's bar. Recently, he relocated to a larger space at the intersection of Industrial Avenue and River Road in Jefferson. He says the new place is easier for customers to navigate, has more parking spaces and allows Cosma and his staff to work on more cars.

  The shop owner says he fell in love with auto mechanics while riding motorcycles as a teenager and turned that passion into a career. His busy shop specializes in imported cars, especially German makes such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. He also works on a lot of Japan- ese cars.

  Uptown Auto Specialist's services include routine maintenance, like oil changes and tire alignment, air conditioning repair and maintenance, automotive computer systems and major repair jobs such as reinstalling turbo chargers. The shop also offers body repairs and vehicle inspections, and addresses common problems shared by New Orleans drivers, such as shock repairs necessitated by driving over potholes and restoring flood-damaged automobiles. The new location has enough space to work on about 15 cars at a time, he says.

  To meet customer demands for the latest technology, Cosma and his staff stay abreast of the newest systems by attending education and training workshops with suppliers and specialists.

  "We work really hard at keeping up with current technology because it changes so fast," he says.

  Cosma, who has been a vehicle mechanic his entire adult life, says he is dedicated to providing high-quality service and satisfying his customers. Often he is able to tackle automotive problems within a day, but he recommends calling for an appointment.

  The hours are long, he says, often starting at 7 a.m. and extending a couple of hours beyond the shop's closing time of 5 p.m.

  "The main focus of our business is to provide good service," says Cosma, who adds that the strategy has worked to secure him lots of repeat customers.

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