Joey and Jeff Anderson are getting new jobs, but the smell will stay the same.
The brothers grew up flipping burgers in their dad's Richmond Wendy's franchises where the aroma from greasy burgers and frying potatoes wafted through the kitchen. They plan to launch their own business this week, driving a cab that runs on biodiesel made from spent grease from their dad's fry pits.
The back of the cab, a 1999 Mercedes emblazoned with a bright, blue-and-green BioTaxi logo on its doors, whiffs faintly of french fries.
By brewing their own fuel, the brothers had planned to pass the fuel savings on to passengers. Unfortunately they discovered the city requires all cabbies to adhere to the same rates. “It's Uncle Sam, man,” Joey Anderson says, sighing. “He's a complicated man.”
In response, the brothers have retooled their branding. Instead of focusing on cheap, “now the pitch is green and professional,” Anderson says, tugging on the baby blue polo shirt he wears over charcoal slacks. “If the rates are the same, why not choose us?”
Going green may not sit well with other cabbies. Recently, To the Bottom and Back — a bus service that shuttles weekend revelers between local watering holes for free — has been catching fire from taxi drivers who don't like it cutting into their business.
”To the Bottom and Back has been getting hate from taxis,” Anderson says. “I just can't wait till people hate us. I know someone's gonna try and take us down.”
Biodiesel-powered and hybrid fleets have cropped up in a few other cities, so the Anderson brothers are optimistic the business will work out. But if not, they figure their capital investments will still be useful. “If all else fails,” Anderson says, “then we have a car.”