Business is resurrected from the ashes
Published 24/10/2010 | 05:00
NEW York Cleaners had been part of the fabric of Dublin city centre for more than half-a-century.
The iconic shop, which looked like it had been lifted directly from Manhattan's lower east side, also told a story of the migration of jews to Dublin and their struggle to build a new life in Ireland.
Last March, the business, on Middle Abbey Street, not far from the Arnotts department store, was completely gutted by fire.
The entire building was engulfed in flames and acrid black smoke after a blaze started on the ground floor of the four-storey building near O'Connell Street.
But now, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, owner Philip Milofsky has opened with a brand-new store next to the site of his old shop. "It's great to be back and there has been a lot of goodwill from customers since we have reopened," he said.
"We have been missed in the area as we are a central part of the street. Business is beginning to come back to us. All the big retail chains are delighted to see us back."
Over the years, the business has passed through several generations but the ethos has remained the same -- quality skilled service, delivered with a smile and individual attention given to all garments.
A third-generation business, New York Cleaners was established in 1944 by two brothers, Harry and Myer Singer, who came to Ireland as Jewish immigrants.
"My great uncles started the business by fixing sewing machines on a push cart. They travelled to America to buy top-quality dry-cleaning equipment. There they purchased a complete plant.
"One piece was a pressing machine called a 'New Yorker'. This inspired the trade name 'New York Cleaners'," said Mr Milofsky, who has been personally involved in the business for 30 years.
An electrical fault in the basement is blamed for the fire that gutted the building.
A woman who was leaving work at a publishing company above the launderette said she heard the alarm going off and saw flames. She called the emergency services but there was little they could do to save the building.
The ground floor of the cleaners collapsed into the basement. The blaze shot up through the building into the roof. The fire then spread to three storage buildings at the back of the launderette.
Unable to afford to be out of business for the last six months, Mr Milofsky has been servicing his contracts and continuing his core business through outsourcing.
The old building will be renovated back to its original form.
Mr Milofsky said: "I have missed my many customers who would drop in to have a chat of an afternoon and leave in a garment.
"I have one customer who regularly leaves in her christening gown to be cleaned, with her grandchildren getting the use of it now.
"Even back then, the older people always used to have chats with my great uncle. He was a great man for talking and three generations on, things are no different."