By Sheila McCormick

Confession: I last used a laundromat about 30 years ago, and that was because the knob and tube wiring in the house we’d just moved into didn’t have the capacity to run our washer and dryer. Once we upgraded the power, no more need.

Lake Merritt Laundromat, at 500 Wesley Ave., was taken over in January 2017 by Derek Drake, whose family has been in the laundromat business for years. Derek has made a lot of positive changes. He added granite countertops, and all in all it looks great. All the machines are new and high efficiency, and although it is apparently a nice place to hang out (free wifi, ample power outlets for charging phones or computers, a big-screen tv, with Netflix) – the time you need to spend there might be less than typical. A typical laundromat has washers that spin at 100x G, but his spin at 200x G– so more water is removed and drying is faster. A main attraction is that you can pay for your laundry with a credit card, Apple Pay or Android Pay – no more saving quarters! And if you pay with a credit card, the 10th wash is free. It’s open every day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. There is a nearby coffee shop (Haddon Hill Cafe) if you are doing laundry in the morning/early afternoon, and a pizza parlor (Leaning Tower of Haddon Hill) with beer/wine if you are there in the afternoon/evening. They have a wash and fold service that’s only $1/pound. Miss Lottie, who lives in the neighborhood and has worked there 10 years, handles the wash and fold service M-F, 9-6, and Nikila handles the weekends (10-4). 

The main downside noted in the numerous Yahoo reviews (https://www.yelp.com/biz/lake-merritt-laundromat-oakland-2) is that parking is difficult in the neighborhood – but you can even avoid that by using their pick-up and delivery service, currently available only on weekends – but it might be expanded to weekdays if there is sufficient demand. One last note: an Amazon Locker (named Charlene) is inside – another nice feature for the neighborhood.