Hong Wah Laundromat No More After Fire – 176 MacDougal Street Ground Floor Now for Rent

Earlier today, I posted some history of 176 MacDougal and Shakespeare’s Restaurant, and, previously, I reported on the fire that took place at Hong Wah laundromat on the ground floor in February. At that time, I wondered if Hong Wah would return.

Well, we now have the answer … and it is is … no.

The space now sports a “for lease” sign.

Hong Wah Sign No More
Horse Shoe above Door !

The mystery of the address continues … except at Buchbinder & Warren’s web site, the address is listed as 1 MacDougal Alley. I believe there is more to the story of the laundromat’s demise. From what I was able to find out online, a laundromat had been in that spot since at least sometime in the 1990s.

As far as the space itself, it is 625 sq. feet. The rent is $6510 a month. (Curious what the laundromat was paying…) I couldn’t get decent pictures of the inside, but it is adorable and has so much potential. Unfortunately, based on some of the other new tenants for nearby 8th Street, I have a feeling what the space deserves is not what it will get. But we’ll see! A laundromat is not exactly glamorous but it is a neighborhood need. I can’t help wondering if B&W really wanted them out for awhile and now they got their chance. A laundromat next to Stumptown Coffee, their prized tenant? Not so fantastic.

But … it had character. It brought its own something that the neighborhood needed.

And, if you are wondering what will take the laundromat’s place, bets are on for something “artisanal.” (Does that term really irk you too by now?)

As Ellyn (provider of the shots outside Shakespeare’s in that spot in 1975) responded when I told her this, “what about a good old-fashioned Chinese restaurant in this neighborhood?”

Well, maybe if it is artisanal Chinese.

The larger question… will the payphone remain?

To be continued…

Photos: Cathryn

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8 thoughts on “Hong Wah Laundromat No More After Fire – 176 MacDougal Street Ground Floor Now for Rent”

  1. As you’ve suggested, there’s more to the story. The longtime owners of the laundromat were a husband-and-wife team. Always friendly and reliable. And the husband, Lu, picked up and delivered.

    One day they were closed, with an apologetic note on the door. A few days later they reopened. Their son was running the business and told a sad story: his mother had been mugged. Her purse was stolen and in the process she was pushed or fell down and was in the hospital. Over the subsequent months the son explained that his mother was recovering, but he had insisted that both his parents take a vacation from the business for awhile. I went there from time to time thereafter, but I never saw the parents return.

    Then they were closed. The phone was disconnected, and there was no one to ask what had happened in the end.

  2. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for your comment. I definitely thought there was more to the story, thanks for adding additional context.

    Was the day they were first closed with the note on the door before the fire?

    That is a sad story about the mother being mugged. That laundromat had a very sweet feeling to it and added a lot to that block. You wouldn’t think necessarily that would be the case but it was here.

    Now the space is host to this high end clothing store and I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about that… maybe they have nice clothes but it just doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ (pun intended).


    p.s. The phone booth is still there tho’! That’s … something.

  3. I don’t have a clear recollection of the chronology. But your report says that the fire was in February 2013, and I’m fairly certain that the original problem (the mother’s injury and the son’s arrival) took place well before that date.

  4. We need a Laundromats in the neighborhood. All the do it yourself laundry’s are gone now. This is a very sad situation, we need laundry mats more than coffee houses or another Asian Restaurant, in my opinion…

  5. I moved onto MacDougal in 1998, a few doors away from 1 MacDougal Ally/176 MacDougal. It was closer to 2000 when the laundromat opened as Yvonne’s Laundromat. Originally, the owner was a woman from India who was under the care of one of her students and they came to New York together. Yvonne was already suffering the ravages that older age can bring but the laundry business gave her a place to occupy herself and spend time with her friend’s family. Yvonne’s health continued to fail (I would sometimes help get her from their van into the building. Once Yvonne passed away, the business had to be sold, and it became the Hung Wah Laundry.
    I would catch up with my neighbours as we did our laundry and it had that small-town/community feeling. One day there was a sign on the door apologizing for the closure. I was told the woman had been struck by a bicycle and the man who hit her called 911 and stayed with her until help came. During her recovery her son and his wife took things over. I did see Lu occasionally, he told me they were enjoying some retirement. Then came the fire. The next morning I spoke to the young couple who had been running the business and they seemed to have no idea how it happened. She told me she closed the laundromat that evening the same way she always did. It wasn’t more then a month before all the machines and fixtures were torn out of the space, repairs made and a for rent sign was up.
    I had started doing my laundry at a place on Thompson (a bit of a walk) and there were all the old faces. But, that’s gone now too. (No idea what happened to that one). I’ve had to resort to bagging my laundry and taking it to a cleaner and picking it up a day or two later. This neighbourhood is losing all the basics. The corner of 8th and MacDougal (directly across from Stumptown) has been sold and emptied out. Why? Does anyone have the answer to that one?

  6. Hi … thanks for your comments. I miss Hong Wah’s presence and now it is a high end clothing store. At least the pay phone is still there.

    Eric, thanks for more info. Sorry for this delayed response. I appreciate the background on the mother also backed up by Zia. Thanks Zia for the history of the laundromat itself. I wonder… I guess they did not have insurance? how long the lease was for? A lot of questions remain about that situation.

    That building across from Stumptown was for sale. I’ll try to find out more about what is happening with that. The ‘forces’ behind 8th Street (the properties are owned mostly by two landlords from what I understand) have been waiting a long time for this moment. Whether it will fulfill their wishes of a ‘rebound’ remains to be seen. Of course, their idea of what the strip should look like differs somewhat from most of us.

    Brandy, it’s so true re: laundromats. What happens when they are all gone? Shouldn’t there be landlords who want to support what is right for the neighborhoods and the people who *live* within them?

    When I wrote these pieces, I thought it was interesting. And I’m so glad you all added more to the information with your comments!


  7. I walked by the location a couple of days ago. The clothing store has closed. (Not that I care much…. just reporting.)

    Zia – I discovered another Chinese dry cleaner / tailor / laundry in the neighborhood. On the north side of Tenth Street, just east of Sixth Avenue. A small establishment. Not a laundromat, but they do drop-off laundry and dry cleaning, and also mending and tailoring. Run by a woman named Ping, who’s very nice.

  8. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for writing. I wrote a post about the clothing store closing in the last month or so.

    Thanks for tip re: other laundry. I think there is one even closer that I’ve walked by but am now blanking on where it is!



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