Life in Southern California is pretty amazing and we’re lucky to be able to live in a beautiful part of it. I was reminded of just how awesome it is to be here this weekend as I took a quick road trip up the coast – but first a couple examples of modern corporate incompetence and one of excellence.
Seeing that it was a fantastic weekend I decided that I would perhaps do something very touristy and rent a convertible to go up the coast. I hopped on to the Hertz.com website, where I’m a GoldPLUS member and checked out rental rates. They list a Ford Mustang convertible (or similar) for about $50 a day – I was sold. BUT, I wanted to make sure that I would actually be given a convertible, that “or similar” language had me worried. So I thought I better call and confirm they have the cars in stock that I want.
Well, 30 minutes of being told that “for quality assurance your call may be recorded”, and no one actually answering the phone in the local Hertz store, I finally got through to a service person in India (Pakistan? Malaysia?) who could confirm my status and my reservation, but had no idea what I was talking about when I said I wanted to know if they actually had a convertible available. I canceled my reservation, because I did not want to get stuck with a Chrysler sedan that was “similar.”
I don’t give up that easily so I tried, Enterprise – no answer at all but the same “your call may be recorded” message. Avis – No answer at all. SIXT – they had a lovely English voiceover actor to direct me through their phone tree but never was I connected to a live operator. Frankly, I’m now of the opinion that for quality assurance – they should just answer the darn phone.
Midway Car Rental used to rent exotics and be in Santa Monica, but they seem to be gone or at least not answering their phones either. All in all, it was an exercise in corporate incompetence and I have to say that if they are all wiped out in bankruptcies maybe their replacements will be better at answering a phone.
Continuing on in my quest to rent a fun car for the weekend, I found this app that allows car owners to rent out their vehicles. It’s called TURO and for $58 a day I was able to rent a 2018 Chevrolet Camaro in Bumble Bee yellow with a black convertible roof. By the time I was done with extra insurance and taxes it was a bit more than $58 a day, but I achieved my goal. The process was super easy to set up an account, and choose my car and the times that I wanted to have it. I picked it up Sunday morning from a man who lives below the Santa Monica Airport and he walked me through the check in, what the car did and how to return it on Monday morning.
TURO is the AirBnB of car rentals. While I don’t think it will disrupt the big airport car rental agencies, in a major metro area like Los Angeles it’s a pretty awesome service for someone who has a car that they want to rent out and reduce their car payments.
The trip itself was a blast. My friends Anne and Paul jumped in and we headed up the coast to Malibu for breakfast and then Ventura to go house hunting and check out neighborhoods. There’s a ton of great new developments and more than a few of older developments that are quite inviting.
We found ourselves in old town Ventura where the buildings are reminiscent of the 1800s and early 1900s. The vast bulk of which are 2 story old brick buildings that have character and style. Many of the retailers are antique dealers or art galleries. We found a wonderful furniture story that had my favorite style of California Ranch furnishings.
Of course I got hungry and well, we found a little Italian joint called Capriccio, Inc. Ventura has dealt with their downtown restaurants in a similar fashion to what we did with Main Street, but they went full on. The streets are now total walk streets and the restaurants have built out platforms for their tables, carpeted the area, built mini-walls and brought in lots of umbrellas.
This proactive, pro-small business attitude is paying off for them in a huge way. The landlords in Ventura are unlike the ones in Santa Monica where we are inundated with corporate boringness, we found mostly unique restaurants that were very busy, and a street life that was vibrant and booming. I spoke with JoJo Ramirez the owner of Capriccio, Inc. and complimented him on his wonderful Fig and Ricotta Salad, which played nicely against the Prosciutto and Gorgonzola pizza we ordered. The figs were dried but not chewy and hard, they were supple and meaty, and a lovely counterbalance to the smooth creaminess of the Ricotta that was drizzle with honey. A sweet balsamic reduction brought a tang to the whole package and I can see making the drive back up to order some of the amazing pastas and desserts that were brought out to our neighboring tables.
There was a shrimp and pappardelle that looked amazing, and a spaghetti and meatballs that was like mom used to make. I can’t wait to use it as an excuse to drive up the coast and rent another convertible. Thankfully, Summer is extended here in the paradise of Southern California so I have many opportunities to head north again.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra