Mission laundromat Laundré announces closure of its cafe following controversy
No one likes laundry day – especially here in San Francisco, where in-unit washing machines are a luxury, and decent, non-stuffy laundromats are few and far between. That's what Arianna Roviello, owner of Laundré, set out to improve when she opened the upscale café-laundromat in 2017.
Now, Mission Local reports that patrons will have to look elsewhere if they want to grab a cup of joe while they wait for their load of laundry to dry. A sign was taped to the business' front door on Monday announcing the café's closure.
"After sincere thought and consideration, we've decided to usher in a new chapter at Laundré," the statement read. It then revealed that Laundré would close the café in order to allow for "greater focus and energy" on the facility's laundromat portion.
But it appears that other issues were at stake.
Laundré charges $4.50 for an 18-pound load (plus free soap) and the prices of its coffee drinks are on par with most cafés in the neighborhood. However, neither were enough to offset the costs of skyrocketing water bills and expensive new machines. To combat this, Roviello attempted to obtain a beer and wine license.
But Mission District community groups refused to support her bid unless Laundré made some adjustments. They protested the business' lack of Spanish signage in the historically Latinx neighborhood, and argued that the Laundré's décor – namely, its stark white walls – signaled a certain "exclusivity." It's unclear if Roviello signed their agreement.
Roviello opened Laundré with the goal of providing an enjoyable space to be in while completing a typically daunting weekend chore. She came up with the idea in college after one too many bad experiences at city laundromats – dealing with stolen clothes after running out to grab a cup of coffee, washers not opening and no attendants on site. She hoped Laundré would eliminate those issues and provide a community gathering space, she has said.
For many, that's just what it was – no laundry required. People also flocked to Laundré for its matcha drinks and beetroot lattes.
"Hesitant to post this because I don't want my new favorite local coffee shop to be crowded," one Yelp reviewer wrote. "I love how spacious and open the space is here... a perfect place to catch up with a friend or bury your face behind a good book! Feel free to do your laundry though."
Laundré was one of the first new laundromats to open in San Francisco in more than a decade, Mission Local reports.
The statement ended on a positive note: "We are endlessly appreciative of your support and to all those who have found a home in the café over the past two years. We look forward to you continuing to wash with us!"
Amanda Bartlett is an SFGate editorial assistant. Email: [email protected]