Photo by Julian Mark

Laundré, the splashy laundromat/cafe on 20th and Mission, is a cafe no more.

“As of Monday, August 12th, we will close the cafe to allow for greater focus and energy on the laundromat portion of Laundré!” reads a note on its door (exclamation point theirs).

Arianna Roviello, the establishment’s owner, did not respond to messages seeking comment. But Mission Local learned earlier this month that Roviello’s ongoing difficulties in obtaining a beer and wine license — which would have helped offset the laundromat’s astronomically high water bills and the costs of its new machines — could lead to the cafe’s closure. Today, that happened.  

Upon opening in September 2017, Laundré’s sterile, modern design on the Mission Street corridor became a source of hushed disdain among some in the old-school Mission community. It definitely stood out on a street of mostly older business. 

That came to a head last October, when seven members of a neighborhood coalition met with Roviello, asking her to sign an agreement that, among other stipulations, asked her to change the color of her walls. Sans an agreement, the group would not support the cafe’s bid to serve beer and wine. (The group’s effort was ostensibly a means of stabilizing the gentrifying neighborhood.) 

It’s unclear if Roviello ever signed. 

Laundré was the millennial-aged Roviello’s senior project in college — where she studied fashion and “fell in love with laundry” — and she decided to bring the concept into the world after working as a Lyft driver for a couple years. 

It was one of the first new laundromats to open in San Francisco in more than a decade — possibly the only one. 

“I thought it would be interesting to create a place where you could wash your fashion,” she said on the day of Laundré’s opening.

Thankfully for her clientele, that’s still possible. But you’ll have to bring in your own coffee.

Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

Join the Conversation

18 Comments

  1. Eyebrows are way up on this one — no way to look at this other than this is bad.

    Willing to believe that Laundre just had a flawed business model, but if their ability to survive was intentionally blocked by various Mission groups and their SUD, then there is a serious dereliction of duty amongst the board of supervisors for allowing this SUD to exist.

    No sane person can make the claim that allowing alcohol sales at a cafe open from 7AM-10PM would result in an increase in perceived drunkenness and alcohol abuse in the Mission. And if there is no validity to that claim, then how could Laundre’s request for permits have been blocked?

    1. How would painting the walls not white have anything to do with that purported goal of the SUD and review process?

  2. It’s not just that beer and wine in another Mission Street cafe would suddenly cause an outbreak of alcoholism in the neighborhood. The Planning Commission has declared a moratorium on alcohol sales for good reason. Especially now, with rents high and retail pressures higher, on site alcohol sales are one of the few ways to boost business. I am otherwise surprised to read someone “fell in love with laundry”. Give her a break. Maybe that’s why she favors white walls.

  3. Selling beer and wine should not require a Conditional Use permit –and it certainly should not be subject to the extortive demands of nativist “neighborhood groups”.

  4. Here is a true mission local tip no pun intended.
    On Wednesdays laundre offers free dry and they always give free soap. Fiesta Laundromat at 898 South Van Ness a block away has $1 washers. Every Wednesday I go into laundre and get free soap. I walk 1 block to fiesta laundromat and wash for $1 . I then go back to laundre for the free dry. Seems like a lot but only as like 2-3 minutes. You can wash dry and soap for $1. I have a washer at home but for $1 you cant go wrong.

    On Thursdays Laundre gave out free coffee. I would just dry something with 1 quarter and get free coffee. Seems like the 25 cent coffee is gone.

  5. just another SF shake down!
    combining a laundromat with a cafe incl alcohol sales makes totally sense. i can recognize the passion of Arianna for this kind of project what other people disdain as ‘gentrification’. really? a laundromat a sign of gentrification???
    the self-appointed ‘neighborhood coalition’ prefers the ‘old way’: tagging, run down storefronts, gang shootings, etc.?

  6. Thank you so called “activists” for ruining the best laundromat in the Mission. The only space where techies, Latina grandma’s, and artists can do their laundry and get a cup of java. Another example of political correctness run amuck.

  7. why is the “neighborhood coalition” not named? I’ve lived in the neighborhood for almost 30 years. I like seeing a building that was empty for years being used, serving a purpose.

    does the “neighborhood coalition” prefer empty spaces? I don’t. I want a thriving neighborhood. several other laundromats have closed in recent years.

    “asked her to change the color of her walls”. I assume this is a joke, right? are we talking inside walls (aren’t they white) or the outside (blue). is this a gang reference?

    I feel like I am not correctly reading between the lines on this one. can the author spell out the details more clearly.

    I think it’s time for a BIG article on the “neighborhood coalition”.

    1. Big article on the “neighborhood coalition”? Great idea, but it ain’t going to happen from MissionLocal. They don’t want to lose the office space they rent from MEDA.

      1. Hey there — 

        So, we did write about this, last year in fact: https://missionlocal-newspack.newspackstaging.com/2018/10/laundre-owner-shaken-after-private-meeting-with-mission-community-groups/

        That article was linked within this story, multiple times. I know it’s a lot of work, but you can click on the links and read it.

        Your implication that Mission Local would cater to MEDA to preserve our office space is insulting and provably wrong: We *did* write that story. This also reflects laziness and a lack of intellectual rigor on your part.

        We also no longer rent from MEDA.

        Do better.

        Best,

        JE

        1. dear editor,

          I’m sorry I didn’t read the article from a year ago to understand the new one. the omitted details I asked about seemed pretty relevant to the current story. I certainly didn’t see the orange underlines on all the links.

          I’ve been a fan of missionlocal since 2008. I don’t understand the tone and petty remarks about “intellectual rigor”.

          when I use ML’s search feature, I still don’t see any recent comprehensive articles on MEDA or united to save the mission.

          it seems to be a hot button issue, but I think it needs to be explored. personally, I see a very good side to MEDA, but also a bad side. their efforts to provide support and housing are greatly needed. at the same time, why are they so heavy handed going after small businesses? big empty storefronts, like laundré, hurt everyone. it’s hard to be in retail now. it’s also hard to freeze time, especially in a city. I would like to see more, affordable places in the mission, not fewer. for these groups to be so heavy-handed with small, non-chain, non-corporate businesses like the royal cuckoo market and laundré is detrimental to the kind of livable neighborhood so many people want.

          1. Dear sir or madam — 

            The knee-jerk reaction of “Who’s paying you to write this article?” or “You’re trying to appease XXX by writing/not writing this article” grows exceedingly tiresome for journalists. I apologize for my hasty reaction as a result.

            The 2018 article I directed you toward was no small deal. You’ll note we also extensively covered the situation revolving around the Royal Cuckoo.

            I can only implore you to keep reading. We will continue to cover all aspects of life in the Mission.

            JE

  8. Arianna,
    Please open up the bathrooms. The laundromat would not have been approved by planning without a restroom for the customers . You must either close down or open up the bathrooms. Cant do a bait and switch. Will report to SF gov.

  9. My guess would be that one of the reasons the neighborhood group might have opposed the beer and wine license could be because there is an old local treasure of a bar (Doc’s Clock) just doors down – so trying to get a permit that would steal business away from this institution didn’t strike them as very neighborly.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *