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The Clean Team

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Living the clean life is a whole lot easier when you've got Russell's Cleaners Inc. (3401 Tulane Ave., 482-3153) and Russell's Cleaning Services Inc. (3704 Robertson St., Metairie, 832-1546) behind you. Between the two companies, run by the Bauer family, customers get more than 70 years of experience in cleaning all types of apparel, draperies, upholstery, rugs and carpets, and even items dirtied by water and smoke from floods and fire or contaminated by toxic mold.

"We stand behind everything we do," says owner and patriarch Richard Bauer, who took over the business from his father-in-law Russell Cuoco, who started it in his family's garage in 1930. Not only does Russell's guarantee its work, it tries to make things easier for customers, offering pickup and delivery, clothing alterations, repairs of household furnishings and restoration of vintage clothing, wedding gowns and even dolls.

As times, technology and customers' needs change, so do Russell's offerings. "One of the reasons we've been successful is we've learned to diversify, and we've changed the cleaning processes as the types of fabric and the environmental concerns have changed," Bauer says. "Since 1995, we've started using a process called 'wet cleaning' -- trade name Aqua Clean -- which is delicately washing, as if by hand, garments in a machine with special detergents. They're really gentle to the fabric, with dye inhibitors that prevent the dyes from running. Another thing we've switched to, and we're only one of 17 companies in the country to do this, is that we clean with CO2, liquid carbon dioxide. There's no heat ... it's very gentle and you can put anything in the machine from sequins to furs. It's all environmentally safe."

His wife, Carole, and daughter, Allison, work with him in the dry-cleaning business, while two of his other children, Andrée and Eric Bauer, run Russell's Cleaning Services, which focuses on home and commercial cleaning. That branch of the company not only cleans and repairs household items such as drapes, furniture and carpets, it cleans up and restores places that suffer water and smoke damage, including extracting water, removing and packing up items, installing dehumidifiers and air movers to facilitate drying, and monitoring the moisture level until it's normal. The company also tears out damaged walls and cleans and stores furniture in a warehouse equipped with an ozone chamber to help evacuate odors and keep mold and bacteria from settling in. The business even keeps on staff a certified restorer who specializes in mold remediation as well as fire and water damage.

Although Russell's definitely is a family owned and operated business, not all of Bauer's children work there. "One of my daughters is an emergency room nurse at Charity; she keeps us all healthy," he says.

"We all do work together well. You see a business develop over the years and you see it continuing on. Hopefully it will continue for possibly another generation."

 

New Crop for Shoppers

Whether you're looking for great prices on designer consignment clothing, furniture, vintage hats, jewelry or Asian fashions, Cream of the Frock (2137 S. Carrollton Ave., 865-1665) can fill the bill.

Owner Kimberly Price opened the shop on March 11 and staged a grand opening a month later, introducing her array of fashions for the body and home to the city.

"I basically put in here what I like," she says. "I've kind of got a hodgepodge of all kinds of stuff." Among the offerings are new Oriental blouses she buys from a vendor in China Town as well as vintage kimonos in impeccable condition that she obtains from a Covington woman who has collected them for four decades. The store also has a wealth of women's dresses, suits, eveningwear, hats, shoes, jewelry, handbags and home furnishings.

After little more than a month in business, she's already expanding her showroom to the back part of the building previously reserved for storage and pricing because of the tremendous response both from shoppers and those offering their goods for consignment. "I thought it would take me a year to expand into the back," she says. Cream of the Frock is open Wednesday through Sunday.

 

Managing Well

Jay Dahlke, general manager of the Marriott Courtyard New Orleans Hotel (124 St. Charles Ave., 581-9005) has been honored by the hotel's international parent company with a General Manager of the Year Award.

This year's award was given to three of Marriott's 600 general managers late last month, based on financial performance, guest satisfaction, profits and personal accomplishments. In naming Dahlke, who took the helm at the St. Charles Avenue Marriott Courtyard last year, an award winner, the parent company said he "consistently exceeded sales goals, maintains high guest satisfaction" and was rated as a "fabulous leader" in a survey of his employees. Before working at the downtown hotel, Dahlke was general manager at the Marriott Courtyard in Metairie. Marriott International Inc. operates about 2,600 lodging properties in the United States and 66 other countries and territories.

Keeping customers and their homes clean is a - family affair at Russell's Cleaners and Cleaning - Services, operated by (back) Carole and Richard - Bauer and their children (front left to right) Andre, - Allison and Eric Bauer.
  • Keeping customers and their homes clean is a family affair at Russell's Cleaners and Cleaning Services, operated by (back) Carole and Richard Bauer and their children (front left to right) Andre, Allison and Eric Bauer.

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