No one really likes hanging out in a laundromat. Even if you can get over the throngs of screaming children, the broken quarter machines, and the search for an empty dryer, you know you've got at least half an hour to kill between loads. Sure, you could leave your laundry unattended and head for the nearest fast food joint, but then you risk having your favorite t-shirt stolen (it's happened to me!) or returning to find some creep rubbing your skivvies on his face. If you decide to stick around, there's a good change your lunch will consist of stale Skittles from the vending machine.
Fortunately for those lucky enough to live in Texas, there's now an amazing solution to the "what-to-do-during-laundromat-free-time" dilemma: on-site burgers and beer. Meet Harvey Washbangers, the most brilliant idea to hit laundromats since fabric softener.
The concept behind Harvey Washbangers is simple - take a self-service (or drop off) laundromat and put it inside of burger joint. While you're at it, give them a liquor license for good measure. The product is a place where washing your clothes feel like less of a chore, and more of a treat.
Customers can pop into either entrance (one for the food and drinks and one for the laundry), and choose to do their own coin-operated washing and drying or pay around $1 a lb and have Harvey Washbangers provide their own "fluff and fold" service. While the business doesn't offer in-house dry cleaning services, the owners have struck their own deals with other local businesses to provide off-site dry cleaning for customers at a discount.
If it sounds like a place with the slogan "Eat. Drink. Do Laundry." might be more of a gimmick than a legitimate offering, you'd be dead wrong. The fact is, the burgers at Harvey Washbangers are to die for.
Once they've loaded up the washers and dryers, patrons can head through a hallway and hit the restaurant where they can order from a monster menu of sandwiches with rave reviews. From gourmet burgers like the Jalepeno Cheese Burger or the Hatch Chile and Goat Cheese Burger to more standard fare like Philly cheese steaks and grilled cheese, there's plenty to choose from. Most of the orders come with 'Harvey's no-starch, single rinse, double-dunked fries" which have garnered their own high marks.
The signature burger at Washbangers? The Cajun Burger, an Andouille blend patty topped with pepperjack and fried crawfish. How ridiculous is that?
The burgers run a bit on the high-end side, coming in at around $10 a pop for each, but they're big and worth it. If you're an adventurous eater and you enjoy trying new things, they offer daily specials from Monday to Friday that highlight different burgers each day at a discount.
The restaurant also has a bar where customers can order suds of the alcoholic variety. From a large, rotating selection of local brews and larger domestic brands, Harvey Washbangers offers a much better way to take the edge off the laundromat experience than cranking your headphones and jamming your eyes closed.
Speaking of eyes, there's usually close to a dozen televisions in the building with all kinds of entertainment playing, so whether you're into sports, action movies, or Mexican soap operas, you'll have more to do than just stuff your face and knock back a few beers while you wait.
Don't worry, you don't have to keep checking your watch or running back and forth to check on your laundry. Harvey Washbangers has a big board in the restaurant area with little lights next to all the numbered washer and dryer units. When your stuff is done running its cycle, your number lights up, and you can go switch the load. Easy and awesome.
If you think the concept is as brilliant and well-conceived as I do, you can thank Michael Lair, because it all sprang from his head. The general manager of the Texas-based company owes a lot of his success to his training at the Culinary Institute of America - an unlikely background for someone who wanted to open a chain of laundromats, but it explains why the food is so damn good.
In fact, the concept has worked so well, that Harvey Washbangers is currently expanding, up to five franchises opened across the country with more in the works. Even if you aren't lucky enough to live in Texas, there's a good chance you'll get to enjoy doing your laundry a whole lot more soon. Hell, you might even find excuses to get it done!
Also, there's this: