Howard's Yellow Cab closes

Dec. 01, 2012 @ 08:31 AM

A long-standing downtown Lenoir business shut its doors Friday.

Howard’s Yellow Cab closed because of owner Steve Sumlin’s health issues, and he said the closure will mark the first time since 1947 that a Sumlin family-owned business hasn’t been in operation within a block of the town square. His family ran a couple of service stations and a restaurant in the downtown area as well as the taxi service and other businesses. Sumlin, a former News-Topic editor, said helping his father was one of the best times of his life.

“I went to help my dad on a part-time basis,” said Sumlin. “He got to needing some help, so I just more or less took over to give him some time off with mom. That was the best two years of my life, I guess, other than when my son was born and marriage. I really got to know my dad and thought the world of him.”

Sumlin said the decision to close down came from his diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. He has some significant tests coming up in January, and while he’s in good shape as long as he doesn’t exert himself, he said he knew it was time to focus on his health. The best part of his job and the hardest part of stepping away, he said, are the people he’s met along the way.

“I was figuring up the other night, and I’ve got one family that’s ridden a cab with us for four generations,” he said. “I appreciate that.”

One major adjustment for Sumlin will be waking up in the morning and not having to go to work. He said he got a taste of that over Thanksgiving, and he said that’s going to be hard to get used to.

“I don’t know, man, it was hard in the last couple weeks when we had four days off for Thanksgiving,” he said. “I could hardly stand that.”

In closing, Sumlin wanted his customers to know they are appreciated, and he’ll definitely miss the relationships built over the years.

“I know it was a shock to a lot of our regular people,” he said. “We appreciate everything people have done for us.”