DAVID and Sue Joannou thought they were ready to retire when their son told them he wanted to open a bar at the sprawling site of their drive-through drycleaning business in Newcastle West.
And so as Chris Joannou, bassist in still hibernating rock band Silverchair, and a few of his mates launched evergreen social hub The Edwards in Parry Street, they turned their mind to other things.
“We did a few trips and projects, and we have grandkids, but there’s only so many weeds you can pull out of the garden,” says Mrs Joannou.
“I missed our customers, who are just like our friends...to be honest, I lost myself.”
Mr and Mrs Joannou have opened The Edwards Laundrette, two doors east of its namesake bar, which recently celebrated its second birthday by launching a self-service laundromat and record store.
The laundrette shares floor space with The Event House, a wedding and events business owned by one of the Joannous’ daughters, Nicole.
It is a scaled down version of the drycleaners the Joannous ran in The Junction and Newcastle West.
“We didn’t want to do drycleaning because it’s so labour intensive, so we’ll be doing laundry, ironing and cleaning big items like doonas and blankets that you can’t fit into your washing machine,” Mrs Joannou.
The laundrette has the “Rolls Royce of shirt finishers” in an Italian-made Barbanti machine which takes washed men’s business shirts and dries and steams them to their creaseless best.
The Joannous’ drycleaning nous dates back to 1959, when Mr Joannou’s Macedonian immigrant parents Steve and Frieda opened a drycleaners in Sydney.
David Joannou trained as a fitter before his family moved to Newcastle and he joined his parents at the drycleaners they opened in 1971 in Glebe Road, The Junction, opposite the Prince of Wales hotel.
Mr Joannou, affectionately dubbed The Shirt Master, says his trade is not hard but requires attention to detail.
“It’s the service industry, so you need to go the extra mile and do things a little bit better,” he says.
Mrs and Mrs Joannou say their three children – Chris, his twin sister Louise and their sibling Nicole – have a strong work ethic because they grew up and worked in the family business.
“They have all done really well. They are not scared to have a go,” says Mr Joannou.
“Life is an adventure. You can’t sit around and wait for it, you have to create it.”
Chris Joannou said he was enjoying seeing “all the family” every day at Parry Street.
“It’s awesome to have mum and dad on board in expanding all things The Edwards, let’s face it, they practically invented laundry,” he quipped.