Five flat-screen televisions. A sleek computer bar with free Wi-Fi. An Italian fresh-ground coffee machine that dispenses lattes, cappuccino, espresso and hot chocolate. Walls covered with hand-painted, meticulously researched, historically accurate Nevada County scenes from the 1800s.
Could this be the region’s newest hipster cafe? Guess again.
Since its recent face lift, the Gold Run Laundromat on East Main Street in Grass Valley has quickly become the go-to spot for those in need of commercial washers and dryers.
Owners and business partners Dave Gough and Steve Switzer said early on they had a vision of creating an environment that would take the chore out of doing laundry.
“Most laundromats have a sterile utilitarian feel to them, and you see people sitting there with nothing to do but watch their clothes go round and round,” said Switzer. “We wanted to turn this into something special and different.”
Not only are Switzer and Gough best friends, they worked together for 25 years as sergeants for the Redwood City Police Department. Now retired, the two moved their families to Nevada County and began looking for a joint business opportunity.
In 2006, they bought the Gold Run Laundromat, which Gough originally deemed “a real beater.” They closed for two months and remodeled the entire facility. Recently, however, they added 700 square feet by acquiring the retail space next door and knocking down a wall. It was then that they decided it was time for serious upgrades.
In the past, Gough had owned and operated as many as four laundromats in the Bay Area and was well versed when it came to running a business of this kind. A lover of all things high-tech, Switzer streamlined the establishment with motion-sensor, energy-effici ent LED lighting, an ATM machine, Wi-Fi capability and large washers and dryers that now accept credit cards or ATM cards. The laundromat can even be locked by the owners from a remote location.
“We have new washers that are the largest in the county,” said Switzer. “We’ve got two 80-pound machines, two 75-pound machines, four 60-pound machines and six 40-pound machines. We also have six 75-pound dryers.”
The large machines are a huge draw for those who want to wash multiple quilts, comforters or sleeping bags all at once, he added, or for businesses with large quantities of linens. Businesses can obtain a custom, discounted “swipe card” that allows them to track what they’ve spent at the laundromat and receive a monthly invoice. With a phone call, they can add money to the card.
Gough and Switzer recently hired Stacy Shelton to oversee a wash-and-fold service, which is available Monday through Saturday. Shelton also offers special pick-up service for those who are homebound.
The most noticeable change since the remodel has been a large mural that envelopes the entire laundromat and depicts scenes from the 1800s in Nevada County. Local artists Jim Bowers and “Foxey” carefully researched each scene before committing them to the walls. Examples include a Pelton wheel, a Maidu hut, Bridgeport, a miners’ camp, hunters, a stamp mill, a water wheel and the inside of a Chinese laundry.
“The artists met and exceeded every expectation — everything is historically accurate, with the exception of two hidden ‘Waldos’ for the kids to find,” said Switzer.
Add new vinyl that makes the floor look like seasoned barn wood and faux brick accents on the wall, and you’ve got a laundromat like no other.
Today, from noon to 3 p.m., the Gold Run Laundromat will host a holiday open house with hot apple cider and chocolate chip cookies. “You don’t have to do your wash, just drop by,” Gough said, with a laugh.
“We wanted to create a warm, inviting place where women could bring their children and feel comfortable,” added Switzer. “We tried to think outside the box and give it the ‘wow factor.’ I think we’ve accomplished that.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com or call 530-477-4203.