By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
David French hopes he can cut down on drunken driving with his new tax business in Quincy.
French, 43, operates Mr. Taxi, which opened about a month ago after he received a taxicab license for the business from the city of Quincy. He is getting attention from the late-night crowd. He says his busiest time is 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.
"I'm here to run a business and make a living, but I'm also pretty avid against drunk driving," French said.
It's something he knows all too well.
His mother died in an alcohol-related accident, and his sister was seriously injured in a separate alcohol-related accident. French also said he had a football scholarship lined up when he was in high school, but he was hit by a drunken driver during the first week of his senior year.
"They took my scholarship because it wasn't a football-related injury," he said. "I was out after curfew. I wasn't doing everything right, either. I was on a bicycle and walking with a friend. Really, all I remember was telling my friend we were going to cross the street after a car passed us. The next thing I knew, I was in an ambulance.
"This is something that hits close to home to me, and I'd like to do everything I can to stop it. I still see a lot bars with a lot of cars in the parking lot, and I know I can't get all of them. But I'd like to see a little bit less."
So far business has been steady.
"It's just getting my name out there," French said. "All the advertising I've done has basically been personally handing out business cards at hotels, restaurants, colleges. I think it really can only grow."
French plans to operate the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He has one other employee and plans to hire a couple more, as well as buy more vehicles to add to the Mercury Monterey minivan in service now, as business picks up.
"The original goal was operate 90 to 120 days, and then get a second vehicle on the road," he said. "It's looking like that is going to be a lot sooner."
Before opening Mr. Taxi, French worked as a chef in town. He also drove a cab briefly in St. Louis. French's best friend has operated a taxi service at Lake of the Ozarks.
"He actually had been trying to talk to me into it, but I kept thinking that Quincy has a cab company," he said. "It's a small town. People walk. There's buses."
However, after he started speaking with people in town, French decided to give it a shot.
"It seemed like it was a real feasible idea," he said.
Mr. Taxi charges $3 for pickup and $2 for each mile. For a pickup, call 231-1928 or **12227 on a cellphone.