CLEVELAND, Ohio — The smell of clean laundry and fresh coffee permeates from The Wash House and Café. Located at 15149 Lorain Ave., the West Park laundromat and coffee shop opened its doors on March 1.
“It means a lot to a lot of people in West Park,” said Sophia Fernandez, general manager. “We wanted to make it into something the community didn’t have.”
The road to becoming a business that serves the needs of West Park residents is long and storied.
The Wash House and Café is the original site of John Marshall High School. The building has been home to various businesses since the Cleveland Metropolitan School District moved the school in 1932.
Leopold Brothers Furniture occupied the space from 1946 until 1987. What were once classrooms became display rooms for furniture. After the furniture company closed its doors, the building largely sat vacant for the next 25 years.
Fernandez, along with her husband, Eli, acquired the property in 2013 and opened Glass Block Headquarters, which now sits on West 152nd Street, on the other side of the building. A pitch to turn the space into modern apartment lofts was then turned down by the City of Cleveland.
After discussing the next steps with members of the community, the idea for The Wash House and Café was born.
“We wanted it to be different,” Fernandez explained. “Laundromats are normally viewed as dirty, old and uncomfortable. Women are scared to go in at night. We wanted a place to relax, bring kids and make it an outing.”
The 5,500-square-foot front building is comprised of 34 washers and 34 dryers. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available for those who want a break from working from home. There is also a cell phone charging station. A kids play area is located beside ample seating options, along with a quaint outdoor patio.
The café’s menu is carefully curated. Local bakers supply a wide assortment of pastries and muffins. Croissant sandwiches are available for lunch.
Caribou Coffee is the brew of choice and can be served hot, cold and in a variety of specialty drinks. Despite considering other big-name options for ice cream, Fernandez wanted to make sure they had a brand everyone would love: Mitchell’s Ice Cream.
Fernandez said the response to the business so far has been welcoming.
“We have mommy groups bring their kids and play,” she said. “We also have hosted business meetings and church groups. Some people have said they feel like they are in a big city even though they are in West Park.”
Future plans for a 30,000-square-foot back building include rentable workspaces and offices, which should be available beginning this fall.
The Wash House and Café is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
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