The grand opening of the Brighton Cafe and Trey’s Laundromat featured free hotdogs. (Photo/Matthew Cichowicz)

The Brighton Cafe and Trey’s Laundromat opened its doors Sept. 18 in Brighton Heights. The combination of the cafe and laundromat is new to Brighton Heights and may be the first of its kind on the Northside.

A look at the menu will show how Brighton Heights has left its mark on the cafe. The menu items are inspired by the area, and owner John Norman said he hopes they will to help to bring the community together.

Norman got the idea for the combination cafe and laundromat while visiting another laundromat he owns on the Northside.

“I saw people walking in to do their laundry, then walking down the street to get something to eat, then walking somewhere else to play the lottery,” said Norman. He explained it made sense to put it all in one place.

Although only a counter separates the two areas of the store, their atmospheres are well maintained, and accommodates patrons looking only to stop in and grab a meal or to get their laundry finished in a hurry.

Originally from Aliquippa, Norman, has been operating small businesses for the past 15 years, including his laundromat on the Northside and two others in Mt. Washington and Chartiers. By combining features of convenience stores, cafes and laundromats, Norman hopes to suit the needs of his customers without them having to walk all around the neighborhood.

The cafe provides deli sandwiches, soup and salad, indoor and outdoor seating, free Wi-Fi, an ATM, XM Satellite Radio and three televisions with Verizon FiOS service for entertainment. Lottery tickets are also for sale at the cafe counter.

Norman isn’t aware of any other stores like his but hopes his business model will serve as a prototype for others. Before deciding to put his idea into action, he met with Pete Bellisario, president of the Brighton Heights Citizens Federation, and other members of the Brighton Heights community to gain support and help ensure the business’ success.

“The turnout has been phenomenal,” Norman said, and he hopes the opening day will reflect the community’s continuing interest in the establishment.

The creative naming of the menu, developed by Norman’s wife, Marla, began with “The Brighton” — a ham, roast beef, turkey breast and capicola mix with American and provolone cheeses. The menu includes other items with affectionate names like the “Zone 1” or the “Legion Park” sandwiches.

The opening, marked by balloons and free hot dogs, brought in steady crowds throughout the day. There was an even mix of some patrons ordering deli sandwiches and others doing their laundry.

The facility’s adequate size prevents any worry of eating sudsy sandwiches or getting soup mixed in with a load of whites.

Preparation for the cafe and laundromat took nearly a year. Norman said he has many hard-working people to thank for its completion. This includes his two sons, Trey and Jalen, the former of whom lent his name for the laundromat.

The Brighton Cafe and Trey’s Laundromat is open from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. and the cafe serves food until 8 p.m. It is located on the corner of Brighton Road and Benton Avenue in the shopping plaza with Andy & Ann’s Flowers and Pittsburgh Fish & Chicken.

Matthew Cichowicz is a senior studying nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh. He is interning with The Northside Chronicle during the fall semester.