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Duluth's Yellow Cab closing

A Yellow Cab driver turns onto London Road on Thursday evening. Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com. 1 / 2
A Yellow Cab driver turns onto London Road on Thursday evening. Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com. 2 / 2

A taxi company that has been serving Duluth since at least the early 1920s is closing its yellow doors.

"The pie has been cut too many times," said Anthony Mitchell, manager of Yellow Cab, which will cease operations after Sunday.

Rideshares such as Uber and Lyft have taken some of that pie, Mitchell said. Even the coming of electric scooters would affect his business. "They're not long runs, you know, but short runs go a long way toward making my business."

Uber launched its Duluth business on May 1, 2017, a week after Lyft. Both were cleared for pickup and dropoff at Duluth International Airport within a week.

Mitchell also pointed to expanded taxi licensing in Duluth. Mitchell's father, Dennis Mitchell, was among those who objected in 2002 when the City Council voted to lift the cap on its 35 taxicab licenses. By 2015, the city had 150 taxicabs, giving Duluth a higher ratio of cabs to people than New York City, the News Tribune reported at the time.

Nonetheless, clients who have depended on Yellow Cab are left scrambling for a new provider. Included among them is the Bob Tavani Respite House, a nonprofit in Lincoln Park that provides short-term housing for homeless people after they've been discharged from the hospital.

Kelly Wallin, an administrator at the facility, said he tried on Wednesday to schedule a Monday ride for a resident only to be told that Yellow Cab would not be in business by then. Three of the residents had been given rides for medical appointments that day, Wallin related, and nothing had been said.

Yellow Cab's service to the respite house was provided through an account with the CHUM ministry to the homeless. Lee Stuart, CHUM's executive director, said the nonprofit's primary business with Yellow Cab was for service to the Steve O'Neil Apartments, where between $300 and $400 worth of business is done per month.

"We look forward to working with another cab company, but they've been real faithful to us," Stuart said of Yellow Cab.

The respite house had been using "quite a few" rides from Yellow Cab for its residents, Wallin said.

"I was really shocked because Yellow Cab has been around forever," he said.

If not forever, for quite a while.

"I got a safety award on the wall from 1922," Mitchell said. "So Yellow Cab has been here for a long time."

Dennis Mitchell purchased the company in 1990, according to his obituary. He died on June 2, 2015.

Yellow Cab has five full-time employees and leases its cabs to drivers, Anthony Mitchell said. It has five cabs on the road.

He hasn't determined his own plans. "I'm still figuring that out," Mitchell said.