Il San Pietro di Positano, a member of the prestigious Relais and Chateaux, is much more than a posh hotel, it is the emblem of exclusivity. Relais and Chateaux, established in 1954, is an association of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs – and becoming a member is quite an achievement.
The transcendental Hotel San Pietro di Positano, overlooking the bay of Positano, is a unique blend of luxury, passion, and simplicity. From the main terrace you can gaze out to the coast as far as the Faraglioni of Capri – or enjoy the breathtaking, world famous view of Positano. A perfect balance of nature and architecture, the hotel seems hidden within the mountains of the Amalfi Coast, yet the terraces unexpectedly offer an unparalleled view of the sea.
Vito Cinque, Director and Owner of the San Pietro, believes in unequivocally providing his guests with the very best of everything. “We have two restaurants: the Michelin-Star awarded Zass (nickname for my Uncle Salvatore) and the Carlino on the beach front (in honor of my Uncle Carlino Cinque, the hotel founder). For the Zass kitchen we chose Electrolux Professional solutions, and for the Carlino we went for the most prestigious Electrolux brand, Molteni. Electrolux Professional has been our only supplier for both the kitchens and laundry,” says Vito Cinque.
The beautiful Molteni suite, chosen for superior performance as well as the possibility of customization, stands in the center of a spacious room: 2,8 x 1,3 m of power and a one-of-a-kind design. With brilliant stainless steel and chrome trim, the Molteni stove was designed and built with three different preparation areas: the left side for starters, the center for first courses, and the right side is dedicated to cold dishes, salads, and desserts. For the meat and fish dishes, the unmatched Molteni Rôtissoire was the preferred choice, in black enamel, stainless steel, and chrome.
The hotel recently chose Electrolux Professional Laundry solutions including washers, dryers, and ironers, for its internal laundry operations. Electrolux professional laundry equipment is designed for reliability, low water and energy usage, long-life, and low running costs. Electrolux is constantly working on reducing the environmental impact of its products and factories according to the strictest standards – while providing customers with best-in-class laundry solutions and innovations. Champions in efficiency and sustainability, Electrolux has been recognized by CDP as a Climate Performance Leader, Global Compact 100, Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, RobecoSAM Sustainability, and was named by Forbes as one of the World’s most reputable companies.
Mr. Cinque is extremely pleased with the Electrolux products, installation, results, reliability and support. “We work especially well with Electrolux.”
In the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains resides the little French town of Perpignan. As a traveler to this quaint Ville,
founded around the 10th Century, it might surprise you to find, nestled amongst meandering lanes and stately old-world mansions, a store that’s thoroughly modern with a decidedly American twist. It’s a laundromat called Mr. Bubble’s Laverie.
Mr. Bubble’s Laverie is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Kurt and Kiki Drimmel. Kurt, a United States citizen, and Kiki, who originally hails from France, had previously called San Diego, California their home. Yet as they began discussing their semi-retirement options, and how best to enjoy a slower pace of life, Kiki and Kurt kept circling back to the same conclusion – returning to France to open a laundromat that offered American amenities.
“We’ve been returning to France every year, since 2004,” Kurt shared. “It’s hard not to fall in love with the people, food, and the beautiful places this country offers. It was our dream come true to make this move happen as soon as we did. And, we never looked back.”
Newly transplanted yet not new to the laundry business
The couple arrived in Perpignan, located in the South of France, in April 2014, and after five months their search for the ideal laundromat location was underway. While Kurt might have been newly transplanted, he wasn’t new to the laundry business. Back in the States, Kurt worked for one of the premier Electrolux professional brand distributors in Southern California – Mike Hurrell at Golden State Laundry Systems.
“Mike has an obvious passion for the business, said Kurt. “He taught me a lot about the coin laundry and on-premise market, and about the Electrolux brand of professional laundry equipment.”
Kurt spent several years with Mike at Golden State and then went on to work as an independent consultant for his own company, San Diego Coin Laundry & Equipment Sales, under the Golden State Laundry Systems umbrella. “I’ve been in this business for over a decade and must have visited every store in San Diego County many time over,” mused Kurt. “It was the best way to know my local market and learn the intricacies of the industry.”
Putting his extensive knowledge to work for Mr. Bubbles Laverie
Having assisted several of his Californian clients with the process of opening a new store, retooling an existing store, or just purchasing equipment, Kurt was confident he’d be able to secure the right location for his store in his new hometown. With a little help from a great broker, he and Kiki did just that. “The area is called Las Cobas, a neighborhood of Perpignan, and it’s steeped in history and culture,” shared Kurt. “The store is in a small strip center surrounded by apartments as well as small shops and restaurants that offer prime storefronts and steady traffic flow.”
What’s more, the closest laundromat to their location is about two miles away and is in need of a retool and some tender loving care. From day one, the couple knew that this Las Cobas locale had all the makings of a premier laundry spot.
Keeping this in mind, Kurt wanted to act quickly and begin formal lease negotiations, even though he wasn’t fluent in French. “I’m currently in school twice a week to fine tune my language skills,” said Kurt. “I may not be fluent—yet. But I do fairly well.”
However, Kiki is fluent and was very much on board. She was also a fast study, learning all she could about the business from Kurt as well as from her own due diligence. Ready to step in, Kiki lead the negotiation with great success. “She was amazing to watch!” exclaimed Kurt. “So poised, so knowledgeable… I am truly grateful to have Kiki as my business partner.”
Yet in light of their industry acumen, the pair still recognized the importance of having a reputable local distributor by their side. “As a longtime laundry professional, I know what a tremendous job it is to launch a laundromat,” he shared, “so many details to consider, from construction, to purchasing equipment, to creating a marketing plan. I knew we needed guidance; a trusted advisor who lived here and knew the ropes.”
Not knowing exactly who that would be, Kurt called someone a world away – John Sabino, the president of New York-based Laundrylux, the sales and marketing arm for Electrolux Professional Laundry systems in North America.
“I can’t think of anyone more well-informed than John,” stated Kurt. “And we can’t thank him enough for putting us in touch with Isabelle Lefevre, the regional Electrolux representative. We found Isabelle to be knowledgeable and professional. She really listened to what my wife and I wanted to accomplish with our store.”
The obvious equipment choice for Mr. Bubbles – Electrolux
Naturally when it came time to purchase equipment for their Laverie, Kurt and Kiki chose Electrolux. “Having sold Electrolux and competitive products for years, I already knew—from its energy efficiency to its durability, Electrolux was the highest quality equipment out there,” shared Kurt.
Another significant detail about Electrolux equipment is its ability to handle larger-size loads quickly. “The key for us is to cater to the people who wash their bulky bedding and comforters,” assessed Kurt. “Very few people have the capacity in their home units to wash large items, and only 15 to 20 percent actually have dryers in their apartments.”
French consumers are also keenly aware of the Electrolux brand. “When we’ve mentioned in passing that we’re installing Electrolux equipment, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” said Kurt. “People instantly recognize the brand and that it’s synonymous with quality.”
Electrolux is a global leader in developing sustainable “green” commercial laundry equipment. The washers and dryers are designed to increase productivity while lowering water and energy consumption.
For instance, Electrolux washers come standard with features such as Automatic Water Savings, which determines the weight of the load and adds precisely the right amount of water. The results can be seen in lower utility costs and a superior wash experience.
“The washer’s High Spin 450 G-force extraction is another fantastic and unique Electrolux innovation,” said Kurt.
Electrolux washers, as well as its dryers, come with the Compass Pro microprocessor for easy programming and more than 20 languages. Compass Pro also makes the equipment extremely user friendly. “My wife and I are available to help our customers, but the machines are very easy to operate,” said Kurt, “very intuitive.” Custom programs such as “comforters” or “uniforms” can easily be added to meet your customers’ needs – and there’s a real-time clock for promotional and time of day pricing.
Electrolux dryers are also built with time and energy savings in mind. “EcoPower technology automatically lowers the heat when the laundry is dry,” explained Kurt. “I think that’s remarkable. It keeps turning so the laundry does not wrinkle, saves clothing and linens from over-drying, and saves us money on our utility bill.”
“Time does seem to move more slowly in France,” Kurt continued, “however, I know our customers appreciate the faster dry time. And we can’t say enough about the significant cost savings. ”
Small by American standards, yet above average in France
With Mr. Bubble’s equipment choice firmly in place, Kurt and Kiki hired Mr. Bouzakri, an expert in building Electrolux-equipped laundries throughout Europe. “Mr. Bouzakri and his company Blue Concept have been instrumental in optimizing the layout for the store,” shared Kurt. “He and his employees drove an hour and a half each way to build our store. Their attention to detail and dedication to our project has been stellar.”
With the square footage coming in at right around 800, Mr. Bubble’s Laverie is small by American laundromat standards, yet above average in size for France. “The biggest changes we’ve made were removing several walls to give the space an open feel and paying attention to the lighting creating a bright, welcoming environment,” said Kurt.
Mr. Bubble’s now boasts a simple layout that is highly functional – washers in one row, dryers in the back section of the store, and a payment system that’s centrally located. A tidy gathering of table and chairs create a comfortable and inviting space for patrons to relax as they wait for their laundry. Other amenities include soap and candy vending machines, free Wifi, and a full video security system.
Mr. Bubble’s Laverie is attended at all times by either Kurt or Kiki or both. “It’s always nice to see the friendly face of an owner on site,” said Kurt. “We want our customers to feel welcome and offer any suggestions they might have for additional services.”
Not your typical French laundromat
With its larger-sized Electrolux equipment, being fully attended, and offering special services like Fluff & Fold, Mr. Bubble’s is making its mark as “the laundry with the American twist.”
“Our customers are excited by our American wash-dry-fold services,” said Kurt. “It’s a concept they know nothing about here and it’s really taking off.”
As for marketing, in addition to a more traditional advertising campaign such as distributing flyers with a coupon for a free dry and giving away Mr. Bubble’s tee-shirts and pens, Kurt and Kiki is putting some new ideas to work. “We are partnering with the local bakeries to do coupons for a wash and baguette special,” shared Kurt. “Plus a local news station is interested in sharing our unique ‘Americans open a new laundromat in France” story.
Kurt and Kiki’s mission is to be the laundry that other laundromats aspire to be. “Our keys for success are simple,” stated Kurt. “Keep our laundry clean, be open on days that the others are closed, offer innovative services, and provide exceptional customer service.”
Looking forward to the New Year ahead and some words of advice
Kurt and Kiki have accomplished quite a lot in the eight short months they have lived in France. Their best advice to anyone opening a laundromat here or in the United States is: Do your homework about the industry and your location; and while you might get some equipment cheaper up front, don’t discount the fact that you get what you pay for.
“We were presented with several brand choices,” said Kurt. “Yet we knew with the Electrolux products, the equipment would suit our customers’ needs and give us the benefits of long-term utility savings and durability. Plus time is very important to customers and to us. When doing wash-dry-fold with Electrolux machines, we can get the laundry washed AND dried in 45 minutes… ready to serve the next customer!”
The couple is very excited to provide Mr. Bubble’s customers with a much needed state-of-the-art laundromat with many conveniences. “We want our customers to come and enjoy their time at Mr. Bubble’s doing something they really don’t like doing,” said Kurt. “Our store is quite special. It’s unlike anything else in town.”
Kurt and Kiki believe in their store so much that already they are thinking of opening additional Mr. Bubble’s locations. “Our last piece of advice is never be afraid of taking risks,” Kurt summed up. “You just never know what you can accomplish.”
Click here to learn more about Mr. Bubble’s Laverie.
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As you leisurely indulge yourself in a microbrew and a Panini, made with goat cheese from Portland Creamery, you receive a text message announcing your laundry is done. Glancing around the retro-mod lounge you just might have to remind yourself, “Oh right, I’m in a Laundromat.” Obviously this is not your typical college-town Laundromat – this is Spin Laundry Lounge.
Located in Portland, Oregon’s Historic Mississippi District, Spin Laundry Lounge encompasses everything owner and founder, Morgan Gary, originally had in mind when it came to putting her, well, unique spin on the laundry business. “My goal was to redefine the Laundromat,” explained Morgan. “And a big part of that was creating a community space that functions as more than just a place to wash and dry your clothes.”
Warm and inviting
Stepping inside the 5,000 square foot space, you can feel the warmth of Spin’s open and bright café environment inviting locals to stay awhile; take in a Blazer’s game on the high definition projector or check emails, thanks to free wifi, whether you’re doing laundry or not.
Spin’s café / bar menu boasts a selection of coffee, tea, beer and wine, pastries, small bites, and fresh salads – all made with ingredients sourced from local farms and companies. “We’ve also partnered with a local company called Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade,” shared Morgan. “Ground Kontrol provides Spin with a few arcade games.” Right now Spin customers can enjoy a timeless game of Ms. PacMan on the mezzanine level.
While the circa 1951 warehouse building where Spin is housed offers up an unhurried atmosphere and tons of character, such as the 1-ton Shepard overhead crane, customers will find there’s nothing slow-moving and vintage about Spin’s ultra energy-efficient and water-saving Electrolux Professional laundry equipment.
“In the end, sustainability was always my main focus,” shared Morgan. “From the Electrolux Professional washers and dryers, to the eco-friendly products and cleaners, right down to the local and organic food and drink in the café – Spin is as green as can be.”
A focus on sustainability and making an impact
Morgan always knew she wanted to make a lasting, positive impact on the environment and her community. She had been working in management for a while when she decided to head to business school. “I had always dreamed of starting my own
company,” said Morgan, “and the laundry business seemed like a perfect fit because typically it’s an industry where lots of water, energy and chemicals are being used.”
In 2012, she graduated with an MBA in Sustainable Business, and, what’s more, a comprehensive business plan. “My final project was a 100-plus page business plan on how to make my efficient and inviting interpretation of a Laundromat a reality,” said Morgan. “I studied trends, visited stores in the area, and read every book I could find about Laundromats and the laundry industry.”
She also kept a running list, jotting down every idea that could make her Laundromat distinctive and sustainable. “From wine tastings, to donating clothing (that was clean and folded) to area shelters, to using compostable to-go containers, to installing energy-efficient lighting – my list kept right on growing,” joked Morgan. “That’s when it really hit me that the laundry industry could greatly benefit from a new way of thinking.”
The dream takes off…
With her redefined Laundromat model firmly in place, Morgan now focused on connecting with the right laundry distributor – one who felt as strongly as she did about sustainability. She found such a partner in Lisa White, owner of Absolute Laundry Systems.
“Lisa, her husband, Scott, and the entire team at Absolute Laundry Systems are incredibly knowledgeable about creating stores built on sustainable business practices,” explained Morgan. “Lisa helped me with everything – lease negotiations, design and layout of the mat, construction, training, even finding the ideal location.”
After a year of searching high and low for the right building and neighborhood for her brand new Laundromat, Morgan fell in love with the “amazing old warehouse building” that Spin now calls home. “It was perfect!” exclaimed Morgan. “In addition to the parking lot, the space offered up plenty of on-the-street parking – and was surrounded by like-minded green businesses.”
It was also close to busy downtown Portland, college campuses, and many older and newer efficient / LEED certified apartment buildings. The renovation from warehouse to Spin Laundry Lounge took approximately four and a half months. “From day one, Lisa and Scott were invested in my business; they cared and wanted me to succeed,” shared Morgan. “Even after our doors opened, their expertise and support continues to be invaluable. What I appreciate most about them is that they really listened to what I wanted my Laundromat to be.”
And the number one way to create a distinctive and sustainable laundry…
Remember Morgan’s extensive laundry list of cool features and sustainable items? Well, topping her list was having “the most energy efficient laundry equipment in the world.”
“That would be the Electrolux Professional 450 G-force soft-mount washers,” said Morgan. “It has a unique feature called Automatic Water Savings (AWS) that automatically adds the correct amount of water to match the load size, which is incredible. The water saving is up to 30 percent!” 450 G-force extraction removes more water, which in turn saves time and energy in the dryer.
The speed of the cycles was also very important to Morgan – and her customers. “Most of our customers are shocked and excited to find out they can complete up to eight loads of laundry in one
washer and dryer in as little as 45 minutes.” Plus, Morgan is mighty pleased that she’s able to save on utility costs and pass on those savings to her customers.
Spin – A New Way to Laundry
Ever since opening its doors in March, the community response to Spin has been overwhelmingly positive. “Customers love the complimentary sanitizing rinse, and all of our Nellie’s All Natural Laundry products,” shared Morgan. “And that they can get all of their laundry finished – washed and dried – in only 45 minutes. They also enjoy the atmosphere and the fact that they can order a coffee (or beer!) while they wait.”
Perhaps one of the biggest satisfactions for Morgan is being involved in the daily operations of her store. “I wanted to change people’s perception that ‘laundry day’ had to be this monumental time-consuming chore,” said Morgan. “Looking around at my customer’s faces, I can honestly say that I’ve absolutely changed their laundry experience for the better. And that feels great. Mission accomplished.”
“Electrolux professional equipment helped turn my vision into a reality. Our customers are able to save time and money, reduce their carbon footprint, and enjoy every minute of the redefined Laundromat experience.”