Mike Borkowski is the owner of East End Auto, affectionately known as Mike’s. It’s a full-service car shop where customers have been known to drop by to enjoy coffee and conversation — even if their car didn’t need fixing.
Now, after 30 years of fixing cars on the North Fork, the Cutchogue native is saying his good-byes and heading to North Carolina to spend more time with his two daughters and brothers.
“Over the years my whole family has migrated from here to down south, I am kind of like the last man standing out here,” he said. “My biggest draw to move now is my children. I figured everyone I love is there and I don’t want to miss out.”
A graduate of Mattituck High School, Mr. Borkowski said he has always had a fascination with working on cars and trucks. After graduating in 1982 he studied his trade at Denver Automotive and Diesel College before taking his first job at Mullen Motors in Southold.
In 2000, Mr. Borkowski branched out on his own, first opening a shop at a “hole in the wall” garage on Route 48 in Southold.
He then moved into a storefront in Cutchogue and finally landed at his current location in Peconic, behind Ted’s Body & Fender Shop on Route 25, two years ago.
East End Automotive serves more than 200 regular customers, many of them generational, he said.
“I have people who have now have their grandchildren bringing their cars in,” he said.
Mr. Borkowski said the secret to his success has been his loyal customer base, their word of mouth recommendations and, perhaps most importantly, the Golden Rule.
“My philosophy always has been and always will be treat people they way you want to be treated,” he said. “Some people say being nice doesn’t get you anywhere. I always thought to myself, just be nice. And it worked.”
Those who know and work him can attest to that.
“He is the nicest, most honest guy I have ever met,” said John Genoino, a friend and employee of Mr. Borkowski for three years. “They broke the mold when they made that man.”
As for his plans when he gets to North Carolina, Mr. Borkowski said he is still undecided.
“All my friends are taking bets on when I’ll open up a shop [in North Carolina],” he said. “I don’t know about that. I’ll probably end up doing something within the industry.”
Since he was unable to find anyone interested in taking over the Peconic shop, Mr. Burkowski said he made the difficult decision to close altogether when he leaves in January. But more than anything, Mr. Borkowski said he’d miss the people of Southold.
“When people started to find out I was leaving I had people coming by just to wish me farewell,” he said. “You don’t realize how many people you’ve touched in your life until you do something crazy like leave.”
“We have a great town,” he said.