February 1, 2012

Couple takes a gamble on casino limo service

J.J. and Tisha Neptune hope to make a buck off the Kansas Star Casino, but not at the roulette wheel or blackjack table.

J.J. and Tisha Neptune hope to make a buck off the Kansas Star Casino, but not at the roulette wheel or blackjack table.

The Haysville couple started Neptune Limousine service last month, shortly after the casino opened in nearby Mulvane.

"It was a risk we could take and see where it goes," Tisha said.

Both have day jobs. Tisha is a Sumner County probation officer, and J.J. works for a Wichita liquor distributorship. Because they work different shifts on those jobs, they’re able to take turns driving the limousine.

The idea for a limousine service came to Tisha in December, after a group of friends couldn’t find one to take them to a show at the Cotillion. Tisha volunteered, and while she was waiting to take the group home, she started thinking that the casino might create even more demand.

So far, that’s been the case. The Neptunes say most of their business has come between midnight and 7 a.m. Some customers need a ride because they want to stay at the casino longer than friends they came with. Many are too intoxicated to drive.

"We even had one that was kicked out," Tisha said.

The Neptunes charge $50 for a ride from the casino to Wichita or Wellington; $35 to nearer destinations such as Haysville, Mulvane and Derby. That rate is the same for up to six passengers, as long as they’re all going to the same place.

The couple has also taken groups bar-hopping and booked weddings and birthday parties, but casino-goers are their main target. They were able to start the business for a relatively small investment, buying a used limousine and doing much of their marketing through Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

The Neptunes noticed a big boost in their business when the casino started staying open around the clock, rather than closing at 4 a.m. The Neptunes, who live six miles from the casino, say they can get there quicker than cab companies and offer a "more elegant" ride than party buses.

"I can put my suit on in two minutes," J.J. said.

The Neptunes have already garnered a few interesting experiences. There was the couple, for instance, who had spent about 10 hours gambling and partying at the casino before calling them for a ride.

"This dude looked like he’d been through a war," J.J. said. On the way back to their hotel, they bought $100 in merchandise at a liquor store and then came up $5 short when it came time to paying J.J.

"We just kind of go, ’Oh, wow,’ ” J.J. said.

"I’m just glad we’re keeping them off the streets driving," Tisha added.

It’s too soon to know for sure whether their investment will pay off, but the Neptunes say the signs are good.

"It’s ironic that our last name is Neptune and there’s the Kansas Star (casino)," Tisha said. "A friend pointed that out. It was meant to be."

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