Loss of laundromat will be a blow to the community

By on Wed, February 28, 2007

While the loss of Coastside Gourmet Coffee is getting a lot of attention, the closure of Thrifty Coin Wash Laundromat to make way for a Peet’s coffee shop may be a greater loss to the Coastside. Thrifty has 79 machines and has been in business since 1970, reports Julia Scott in the County Times.

Although he has not yet been served with an eviction notice, laundromat owner Joung Chai said his landlord, Maher Shami, refused to renew his five-year lease when it expired in November. He has been on a month-to-month lease since then.

Chai didn’t even know Shami had applied to the city for a building permit to replace both his space and the cafe next-door with a Peet’s until cafe owner Raman Bechar told him of it in January.

Both businesses’ hopes were dashed on Feb. 13 when Bechar received a letter from Shami rejecting an offer he made in return for a long-term lease. Shami has said he needs to charge more rent to make "upgrades" to the western flank of the strip mall. He did not return calls. ...

"Eighty-five percent of my customers are Mexican families. They are poor, and a lot of them are renting. They don’t have washing machines. ... This would be a disaster for them," said Chai.