A fixture of Charles Street for more than 30 years, the temporarily shuttered Beacon Hill Cleaners will be among the 30 recipients honored by the city as ‘Legacy Businesses’ at the inaugural Legacy Business Ceremony and Reception on Monday, May 22.
Beacon Hill Cleaners had continuously operated at 151 Charles St. under the ownership of Ledung Tran and her husband, Hai Tran, since opening in 1991 until early January of this year when the business was suddenly and unexpectedly displaced by their landlord, Charles and Cambridge Corner LLC. The drycleaner’s landlord cited structural concerns related to excavation and construction next door next door at 149 Charles St., the former home of the Beacon Hill Pub, as the reason for the removal.
Soon after the business was displaced, the office of then-District 8 City Councilor Kenzie Bok stepped up to lend Beacon Hill Cleaners its assistance.
Trang Tran, the daughter of the business’s owners, expressed her deep gratitude to Bok, along with Kennedy Avery, the District 8 Council’s chief of staff and liaison to the Fenway, and Jake Werner, the office’s director of communications and liaison to West End and Beacon Hill.
“Without us even reaching out to them, they came by and offered assistance, and were extremely helpful with helping coordinate movers during our displacement,” Trang wrote in an email. “It was already extremely stressful, so having their assistance meant so much to us. Even though we had closed, they had made us aware of funding sources and other opportunities to try to support us during this time.”
One of these funding sources was available via the city to Legacy Business winners, so former Councilor Bok’s office strongly encouraged the Trans to apply for the award.
“When I looked more into the award, I felt that my parents were really qualified [to receive it], especially since they had been in the community and running their business for over 30 years,” wrote Trang. “In this time, it’s hard to keep a business open and operating for even a few years, but to still be in business doing what they love for over 30 years speaks a lot. It truly is part of their legacy – and as refugee immigrants [from Vietnam], it’s part of their American Dream.”
Of the recognition that the business is receiving, Bok said: “I think that Beacon Hill Cleaners defines what the city was looking for in a ‘Legacy Business.’ They really anchored the community on the community’s main street, Charles Street, for many decades. They have a hugely loyal following and really are a business that connects the neighborhood and are also a pioneering example of a family-of-color-owned business in the downtown core. I think it’s super important to us that the city strongly supports Beacon Hill Cleaners through this very difficult set of recent circumstances for their business and also to affirm that we have to keep them in the neighborhood.”
According to a statement from the District 8 Council Office, which continues to serve constituents after Bok’s departure: “Upon learning that the Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion was looking to recognize and support longstanding small businesses across the City through their Legacy Business Program, the District 8 Council Office immediately thought of the Beacon Hill Cleaners. Owned and operated by the Tran family for 33 years, the cleaners is truly a fixture of the neighborhood. Beacon Hill residents’ loyalty to the business and the Tran family was highlighted earlier this year when the building’s landlord forced the business to close on a couple days’ notice. Our office received an outpouring of phone calls and offers to support the Tran’s business from Beacon Hill residents. We are delighted to see the Beacon Hill Cleaners recognized as one of 30 inaugural legacy businesses across the City and hope that this support will help restore the business to its beloved spot on Charles Street.”
Although Trang submitted her application in mid-January, about two weeks after the business had been displaced, her parents didn’t learn that they had been selected as a Legacy Business until about two weeks ago when they received a call from the city to inform them of the news.
“They were thrilled when they found out, especially given that we haven’t been open since January,” wrote Trang. “You don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it anymore. and so having this recognition from the city, especially for being part of the Beacon Hill community means so much. It’s also recognition for all the hard work they’ve put into the shop and building roots into the community. During the closure, there had been talk about relocating to another location, but they didn’t want to do that. They feel very strong roots in Beacon Hill and didn’t want open elsewhere. This award came at a great time to help during this time until we can reopen.”
Besides Bok and her erstwhile staff, Trang also expressed the Tran family’s sincere thanks to the Beacon Hill Civic Association, the City of Boston, “and the countless loyal customers who have generously offered their time, advice, encouragement, support, and well wishes through this uncertain time for our business.”
Added Trang, “We are truly blessed to be part of the Beacon Hill community.”
Last week, the Trans received word from their landlord that the Charles Street building that had been home to the drycleaners had received approvals from both structural engineers and the city’s Inspectional Services Department to safely reopen. The Trans are now working with their landlord to prepare for the reopening of Beacon Hill Cleaners.
The Legacy Business Ceremony and Reception on May 22 is free and open to the public. The ceremony at Faneuil Hall will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Faneuil Hall, followed by a reception at Boston Public Market at 7 p.m. Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/legacy-business-program-awards-ceremony-tickets-632717724747?aff=erelexpmlt for reservations.