Laundromat to reopen

HYDE SQ.—The laundromat at 410 Centre St. whose closure last month sparked concerns of gentrification will reopen soon, according to landlord John Demopoulos, whose own family will operate it.

“New machines—everything [will be] new,” said Demopoulos on June 22 while standing outside the former Jamaica Plain Laundry Centre, its old washers and dryers gone and the interior in the midst of refurbishment. “It will come back. The business will be exactly the same as before.”

The only difference will be the name, which will change back to Jamaica Plain Laundramat—one of two names, both eccentrically spelled, that appear on two different signs on the storefront.

The exact opening day is up in the air, said Demopoulos, adding that one of his family members likely will manage the laundromat.

Demopoulos said he previously ran the laundromat, starting when he bought the building in 1983 until about 2001, when he sold the business to Jay Buchta.

Buchta did not respond to a Gazette message left at the laundromat in its final days and could not be reached for comment. A laundromat employee previously told the Gazette that a rent dispute was responsible for the business’s closure. Nobel Garcia, owner of the adjacent El Oriental de Cuba restaurant, previously told the Gazette that he had heard a 100 to 200 percent rent increase was involved.

Demopoulos, who has an unlisted phone number and was not previously available for comment, declined to say exactly why the previous owners closed shop. But, he added, he was charging $2,700 a month for the 1,500-square-foot space, and indicated he was seeking an increase of about $100 a month more.

“Jay is a nice guy,” Demopoulos said. He expressed displeasure only with the fact that farewell signs hung on the laundromat after its closure made no mention of his plans to reopen it. He has since posted signs saying the laundromat will return under new management.

The laundromat was known as a staple service business and hang-out spot in Hyde Square. Demopoulos said it had been in operation for about 40 years before he bought the building.

The laundromat sits across the street from the former Hi-Lo supermarket, where a Whole Foods Market is moving in. The laundromat’s looming closure was first publicized by an anti-Whole Foods activist who learned of it while handing out flyers. But prior to the closure, a laundromat employee told the Gazette that Whole Foods had nothing to do with the rent dispute.

Demopoulos told the Gazette that he thinks Whole Foods will be a good addition to the area and will not inspire landlords to raise rents. Demopoulos said that he had a 12-year tenant in the residential units above the laundromat whose rent he had never raised.

“Why raise rents if you have good tenants?” he said.

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