Sheldon Cleaners pilots new French-inspired bistro Cafe Louis in Grand Rapids
Feb 05, 2015

Story reposted from Rapid Growth Media, read original article here.

When owners of Sheldon Dry Cleaners initially reached out to Sue Chaitin with their idea to build a French-inspired bistro alongside existing plans for an all-new self-service laundromat, the restaurant consultant admits she wasn’t 100 percent convinced such a foreign concept would work for the area.

“To be honest when they came to me with the concept I was a little skeptical, but as I continued to talk to them and saw the space they were building, I thought, ‘Man this could really be something cool.'” says Chaitin, who authored a book and hosted a cooking show under “Sue Chef” prior to taking up restaurant consulting with her husband more recently. “It’s pretty much been a full-time job for the past three months, getting everything built and designing the menu.”

Owners and consultants drew on similar establishments, like one called Brainwash in California, to conceptualize the new Café Louis, whose menu includes soups, sandwiches, pastries, and coffee from the Holland-based roaster Simpatico, along with hot tea and a selection of cold beverages.

To top it off, Chaitin handpicked a selection of sweet and savory crepe recipes to include on Café Louis’ menu, tying together the stylish ambiance of the combined 6,000-square-foot café at 3000 Breton Rd., including a laundry and lounge area with booths, tables, chairs, TVs and free Wi-Fi, with plans to add additional outdoor seating with a new patio in the warmer months.

Though part of the motivation behind the Café Louis renovation was the result of opportunity – new high-efficiency dry cleaning equipment created extra floor space at the Sheldon Cleaners HQ – the other part of the company’s pilot concept is rooted in finding the same thing most traditional businesses are gunning for – the loyal patronage of Millennials who are moving the industry away from full-service dry cleaning by virtue of the changing times.

“The dry cleaning business has changed a lot throughout the last 20-30 years,” Chaitin says. “It isn’t as big of a business as it used to be, so they’re innovating and listening to what the market says it’s doing — and more people, especially the younger generation, are doing their own laundry.”

Chaitin says Café Louis hopes to bring in the demographic of renters – college students and young professionals – living in the area that are already looking for what the remodeled location is now offering: a clean place to do laundry and a comfortable spot to get some work done.

“We’re filling a gap that is necessary, but also making it more fun to do laundry,” she says. “It’s not a typical laundromat where you go and sit on moldy chairs and you’re afraid to put your clothes in the washing machine. These are state-of-the-art machines, eco-friendly, they wash and dry your clothes in half the time.”

Though Café Louis quietly opened its doors on Jan. 15, last Thursday was the official grand opening. Stay in the loop with Café Louis on Facebook.

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Sue Chaitin/Sheldon Dry Cleaners