DC Area Expands Operation Despite Pandemic

Washington DC’s 95 year-old top quality dry cleaner is committed to preserving area jobs, expands to upgraded 10,000 sf facility 

Parkway Custom Drycleaning, a well-known local DC institution founded in 1926, , has recently moved from its location of 50 years on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, MD to 5455 Randolph Rd in Rockville, MD. In spite of the pandemic and its impact on his business, owner Jon Simon is committed to retaining as many employees as possible and is betting on a bright future, as he has almost doubled capacity when he upgraded the 10,000 square foot facility that is now Parkway’s home.

The company has faced several challenges since Simon has owned the business. He acquired the business almost 20 years ago – only a few months before September 11th, 2001 from the family that had operated the business for decades and had to not only learn the business but deal with a significant reduction in demand during the aftermath of the tragedy. He was challenged again during the Great Recession, expanding to new services, but nothing has impacted his business as much as Covid-19.

Just as the economy was shutting down last March, Simon was signing the closing documents to acquire a warehouse so that he could convert it into a plant and store. He has been creating and improvising almost his entire life, as he started out as a jazz pianist and music composition major (with 9 recordings on his Silver Lining Label), before getting a degree in Engineering and an MBA from Harvard. With each challenge he has drawn on his skills and creativity to bounce back and grow. 

He has built and pivoted the business from one focused primarily on garment cleaning when he took over to a multi-service business, now offering about 13 different services, including the cleaning of area rugs, handbags, household linen cleaning, along with drape and upholstery cleaning in the home as well as off-site. During the initial months of the pandemic he built up a substantial new business providing hand sewn face masks, having to order materials like elastic from sources as far away as Chicago when supplies were unavailable on the east coast or through his normal suppliers.

Parkway has been known as the area’s high end cleaner for decades, the place people who have extensive wardrobes bring their clothes, along with the company others think of for cleaning wedding gowns and specialty items like delicate table cloths and favorite possessions. Besides serving the general public, Parkway cleans and restores items for numerous embassies, the White House, the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, along with serving the local area’s finest boutiques and department stores. 

Parkway has been voted the Top Area dry cleaner by Washingtonian and Bethesda magazines and is the only area cleaner to have received the America’s Best Cleaners Award. Simon is dedicated to creating a business with a culture of “always improving,” and facilitates the Finest Cleaners of America, a group of 10 nationally recognized cleaners providing advice to each other and to the industry.

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