Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Entrepreneur has big love for modernizing laundries

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

If you’ve been looking for Big Love, you’ll find it at Chris Wilson’s new Love Laundry at 2431 K St. in midtown Sacramento.

Wilson invested more than $1 million to buy the building that had housed Fort Sutter Laundry, renovate it and bring in all-new machines and fixtures. That includes the granddaddy of them all, a washer that Wilson affectionately calls “Big Love.” It’s an eight-load washer with a stout Mrs. Love drier that can match its output.

A new generation of entrepreneurs like Wilson began buying up and updating old laundries in the early 2000s. Some have even installed snack bars. The machines at Love Laundry accept coins and credit cards. Wilson furnishes an ATM and a change machine. He’s offering a drop-off laundry service at $1.25 a pound. The washers and driers are energy-efficient and ergonomically designed to reduce the stress on backs. What’s more, Wilson has automated nearly everything in his shop.

“It’s networked to my computer,” he said, “so if there’s a leaking drain valve, which is a big issue in this industry, water consumption, it will email me and tell me which washer has a leaking drain valve, so I can fix it and I’m not losing water on each load.”

The door opens automatically at 5 a.m. and locks automatically at midnight. Timers turn on the lights, the televisions and the music. Wilson has a video feed that allows him to see what’s happening at the laundry on his smartphone. Every night, the washers automatically perform a wash cycle to clean the machines. He recently purchased a sprinter van, and he plans to add pickup and delivery service. His vending machine stocks Perrier.

This isn’t Wilson’s first laundry venture. He purchased Wash & Dry Launderland at 2907 West Capitol Ave. in West Sacramento about five years ago.

Ready to cheer?

Boulevard Park just might be celebrating a new neighborhood eatery on Super Bowl weekend. It’s Mark and Carol Hoyt’s Easy on I at 1725 I St.

“We’ve put in a nice custom bar,” Carol Hoyt told me, “and we’re going to have a couple TVs in here. It’s not really going to be a sports bar, but if someone wants to watch a football game, if they want to watch ‘Downton Abbey’ on Sunday nights, we’re just gonna go with it in that respect.”

The Hoyts had looked for a place for more than a year before discovering that Lauren Barton was ready to sell her Michelangelo’s Italian Art Restaurant. The new owners are Sacramento natives. She graduated from Luther Burbank High School; Mark Hoyt, from Norte Del Rio High School. They met at Sacramento City College. Over the past 35 years, Mark Hoyt has worked outside Sacramento in the restaurant industry. Carol has managed natural foods markets and done other jobs in retail.

The L-shaped bar will be made of granite, Carol Hoyt said, and it will seat 10. The restaurant will hold 50 to 65 people overall. The couple describe it as an American bar and grill, and since workers in the neighborhood have told them they don’t have a nearby restaurant that turns lunch around quickly, the Hoyts are focusing on salads and sandwiches.

“We’re going to have tri-tip,” Carol Hoyt said. “We’ll have a Guinness-cooked corned beef, chicken, fresh salmon, and our specialty sandwich is going to be a salmon Reuben. We’ll have lots of different bar foods instead of sliders, we’re calling them Big Minis, our little mini sandwiches.”

Ready to go

Donna Davis is still fresh in her role as the Small Business Administration’s Region IX administrator, but she’s had extensive experience in small business as an owner and an advocate.

“I was the president and CEO for the DIR Group,” Davis said, “and we did advocacy work and business consulting. ... Before that, I was the president and CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association, which is the largest trade association in Arizona, representing the needs and issues of the small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout that state.”

Davis’ first job after college was with the National Park Service, as a ranger at the Grand Canyon. She became a self-described serial entrepreneur, and as such, she said, she did business in every state in Region IX. That region encompasses Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii and Nevada. Davis, whose office is in Glendale, likes to joke that she wishes she got paid by the mile. She’s recently visited the Sacramento SBA District, and she will finish out a whirlwind tour filled with speeches, listening and learning with trips to Fresno, Nevada and Hawaii.

Last year, the SBA provided record lending in California, about $4.2 billion, and also maintains and oversee a portfolio of $15 billion in loans here. With this week’s drought emergency declaration, the SBA is mobilizing to offer assistance to businesses and individuals. The SBA’s Western disaster center is based right here in Sacramento, and Davis said it will be her job to communicate with constituents in need.

Mostly, though, Davis said her role is to help small-business owners understand how to access capital, counseling and federal contract opportunities.