LCF ‘Smart Living’ Van Drives Debonair Style

John Clark is an idea guy, and a lot of them are good.
One in particular is “fantastic,” according to La Cañada Flintridge resident Jason Bridge, who recently reserved a ride for himself and six other Coldplay concert-goers in Clark’s Smart Living Executive Sprinter Van.
“They did a fantastic job,” Bridge said. “It was five-star service all the way from our front doorstep to parking right up front, next to the entrance of the concert.”
Smart Living is the hobby and business enterprise of the Clark family, who also are LCF residents. They’ve introduced a high-end ground transportation service that can transport small parties to all variety of destinations, including concerts, dinners, sporting events and wine tasting — or for business trips, if so desired.
And Smart Living’s spacious Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van delivers its clients to their destinations in style: “It’s like a jet on the ground,” Bridge said.
That, John Clark said, is the idea!
“There was something we found missing in the travel business — executive travel on the ground,” said Clark, who also runs an advertising agency. “There are private jets, fancy hotels, fancy boats, and there are lots of limos and stretch Hummers and stuff, but those are for prom. This is a little more under the radar, but it sure does make a statement. This is cool and this makes sense.”
He and his wife, Karen, thought they might incorporate their flair for entertaining into filling that void in upscale transportation.
“We got started with this because we wanted an activity to do together,” John said. “We said, ‘Let’s do something we both enjoy doing.”
“And this,” Karen said, “sounded great.”
Now they’re sending out the van at least twice a week. It comes “outfitted like a private jet,” and made to feel like a “mobile living room,” with four captain’s chairs, a third row bench, three big-screen TVs, Apple TV and other satellite streaming services, SiriusXM radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI hookups, four retractable desks, a cooler, a safe and overhead storage.
Always piloted by a driver, who usually is accompanied by a concierge (usually John or Karen), Smart Living has hosted Sweet 16 parties, provided transportation home from bat mitzvahs and gone as far as San Diego and Santa Barbara.
And riders can expect personalized service, Karen said. Take that Sweet 16 party, for example. The van was stocked with candy jars and cute drinks; fun, age-appropriate music and movies were cued up; and the monitors displayed images of the birthday girl.
USC or UCLA fans going to watch their teams play would receive the same specialized treatment, as would fans of Coldplay or another musical group. The Clark children — Jack, 13; Jaley 11; and Hannah 8 — help with this part, going shopping for items, baking treats and crafting other cool objects to enhance and personalize the experience.
The Clarks have designed the service so the good times start before the van gets rolling.
“When this shows up,” John said. “We place a beverage bar out in front, usually in the driveway. Most people have never tailgated in their own driveway before, but they’re served a beverage and appetizers, and when all their guests show up, all of a sudden they don’t want to leave.”
Bridge said he appreciated that pre-trip treatment.
“When we came out of the house, they were already greeting us with a glass of wine, and then, they set up a full tailgate afterward at the concert,” he said. “So we invited all our friends who were not only with us in the van, but who were at the concert, to share in the festivities.
“The idea is who wants to drive an hour in traffic and have to deal with getting there and getting out of the concert, this way you can begin the party early and end it later.”
For all their focus on making each excursion fun, Clark said they have received some constructive criticism: Please, give riders a five-minute warning.
“We take people to where they want to go, and they’re having so much fun, their comment when we arrive is always, ‘Oh, we’re here already?’” John Clark said. “So people want us to let them know when we’re about to arrive.”
Smart Living also is available on a membership basis, said John Clark, who is prepared for this idea to continue to blossom.
“This is the start of something fun,” he said.
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