Clean clothes or coffee? Laundry or libations? These are the kinds of choices that no one should have to make, yet in today's workaday world it happens all too often. But now we have The Wash House, a new laundro-cafe in the East Village that will gladly wash and dry your delicates and duds as you enjoy grilled cheese and beer. Inspired in part by the success of San Francisco's Brainwash, The Wash House marries a drop-off laundry service to its cafe concept with much success. "It isn't just a laundromat, it's a place to hang out," general manager Joseph Bouvier said during our visit. "We thought the concept would work here, especially in this area."
For $1 per pound, The Wash House will take care of your laundry on a next-day basis (there's also the option to pony up for same-day service), much like your local laundromat. The owners made a deliberate point to only use biodegradable soaps that are easy on sensitive skin. The load of clothes that we dropped off came back nicely folded and smelling of light citrus and coffee grounds, very much unlike your corner washateria.
The interior fits snugly into the reclaimed rustic aesthetic that has spread like wildfire across Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Tap beers arrive in mason jars and counters made of knotty reclaimed timber run along each wall. The walls themselves are adorned with the accoutrements of laundry's yesteryear; pitchers, rusted washboards, and an old lantern complete the cafe's ye olde aesthetic. It's impossible not to enjoy the space, though, and it's clear that the staff has worked hard to build a place far removed from—in Bouvier's words—"run-of-the-mill, nasty laundromats." Sunlight streams through the floor to ceiling windows and tall mirror lends the narrow space ample breathing room. Washing your dirty socks has never been so Instagrammable.
A restaurant first and foremost, The Wash House nails all the requisite cafe fare. As we handed over our dirty darks, we were greeted barside by D'Amico coffee and sweet, chewy coconut chip cookies. In keeping with the style of their sister NoLita spot, Little Fox, a selection of high-end grilled cheese sandwiches awaits hungrier customers. Menu highlights include the Red Fox (chorizo, cappicola, mozzarella, Jamaican peppers, and balsamic), Crunch (pepper jack, mozzarella, pickles, and crushed chips) and the sweet Soft Wash (Nutella, mascarpone, banana, strawberry, and honey). Our sampling of the Red Fox was excellent: spicy and gooey with a nice peppery bite from arugula greens. Each grilled cheese also comes with a Pickle Guys dill or kosher pickle.
The shop sports a surprisingly diverse tap beer selection, with Negro Modelo, Modelo Espescial, Ithaca Beer Company's Flower Power IPA, Coney Island's Mermaid Pilsner, and Philadelphia's Sly Fox ale all available, plus we've been told that a roster of seasonal brews will rotate through the taps. Chardonnay, cabernet, and sparkling wine are also on the menu for those who prefer vino. Plans for an outdoor backyard patio (and possible extended evening hours) are in the works for early summer.
44 East 1st Street; The Wash House. Open Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.