We were privy to a rare opportunity Monday afternoon when the man behind the mysterious Hop Sing Laundromat at 1029 Race Street (the site of a former Indonesia restaurant) let us in to the future site of his “labor intensive” cocktail bar. If Lêe (the singularly named man behind the Hop Sing vision) had his way, no one would have ever known about Hop Sing Laundromat until it opened its doors, but Mr. Fox never quits. If you ever wondered what it might be like to drink in an establishment your grandfather might have frequented, clad in wingtips and hemmed slacks, Hop Sing Laundromat is the place for you—-and its name comes from an obscure Bonanza reference to the cook of the Cartwright family. (Bonanza? We dig it.) When it opens this summer, Hop Sing Laundromat will feature a 40-foot bar and a mahogany bar-to-ceiling wall that boasts 1,000-or-so different high-end spirits (Philly’s largest selection), 10 different types of ice, the opportunity to order food from “the best local restaurants Chinatown has to offer” and complimentary shoe shines.
Last year, Lêe drove 33,000 miles and passed through 48 states in 70 days. He visited every cocktail bar he could find and found they were the same across the nation. He envisions Hop Sing Laundromat will be something different. “I don’t want it to be another diluted version of a New York cocktail bar,” says Lêe. “It’s going to be a Philadelphia cocktail bar.” Patrons will enter through a foyer-esque waiting room where a chandelier hangs above a copper-penny floor. There, from 5 to 8pm they can receive a complimentary shoeshine on a stand left behind from the building’s printing shop days and set their umbrellas or hats on a stand built in 1882.
We’re excited to see what the place our grandfather’s might have shared drinks in will look like, and we thank Lêe for letting us pry this information out of him. —-Lou Mancinelli