BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — New City Cleaners celebrated 100 years in business this month with Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall, many longtime customers and a live remote from KUZZ radio in attendance.
New City is the second-oldest drycleaning operation in the country. When Martin Fetchner founded the business (originally City Cleaners) in 1910, he performed garment pickup and delivery by horse and buggy.
Charles DeCew and Jay Mahler purchased City Cleaners in 1914 and continued to offer route service. Adding a call office, the new owners changed the business’ name to New City Cleaners.
Henry and Esther Brandt purchased New City 30 years later, changing the plant’s layout and remodeling its call office. They replaced belt-driven equipment with modern equipment in 1955, and added the first Adjust-A-Drape machines west of the Rockies in 1959.
“My grandfather was known as a very good presser,” Jarrell Epp, the Brandts’ grandson and New City’s current operator, told the Bakersfield Californian. “He had an eye for detail. He was very meticulous, and he enjoyed nice clothes.”
New City added a fur storage vault in 1962, and joined five buildings under one roof in 1966. New City’s production area was destroyed by arson in 1982, but the Brandts were able to resume production in just seven weeks.
The business continued in the family when Epp bought New City in 1986. He refreshed the call office in 1988 in advance of the first California Sanitone Licensee Seminar, which has since grown to be a semiannual meeting for all West Coast licensees.
Epp married the following year, putting bride Amanda Schatzel to work as office manager. They installed new Stoddard machinery in 1992, as well as new shirt equipment and a point-of-sale (POS) system.
New City opened a second store in 1996, and a third in 2006. New City still operates three residential and commercial routes serving greater Bakersfield. New City is known for its gown-preservation services and is a member of Leading Cleaners Internationale (LCI).
Blending new processes with time-tested techniques, quality is the secret to New City’s ongoing success. “New City Cleaners has long been known for its superior drycleaning,” Epp says. “The focus has been to provide the best quality our industry has to offer.”