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Vogue Cleaners marks 75 years on peninsula

Updated: May 19, 2021

Fred Rose (second from right), who bought Vogue Cleaners in 1976, stands with eldest son Michael, wife Judy (second left) and Michael’s wife, Bonnie, at the Tiburon store on May 6. (Elliot Karlan / For The Ark)

Frank Levy (right) shakes hands with Kiyoshi Kuwatani in 1946, when Levy purchased the Tiburon & Belvedere Laundry on Tiburon Boulevard, which was later renamed Vogue Cleaners. Also present were Levy’s brother Frank (second left); Nobuo (center) and Asano Kuwatani with daughter Karen; and Kiyoshi Kuwatani’s wife, Iyo (second right). (Via Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society)

Vogue Cleaners is marking its 75th anniversary this year — and the business has deep roots on the Tiburon Peninsula.

In 1938, Kiyoshi and Iyo Kuwatani moved to Tiburon and opened Tiburon & Belvedere Laundry on Beach Road. However, they were soon forced to abandon the business when World War II broke out and the Kuwatanis, like all others of Japanese descent living in the U.S., were sent to internment camps. The Kuwatanis spent the next four years at Camp Amache in southeast Colorado.

Meanwhile, the Beach Road building that housed their business sat vacant and was extensively vandalized. In 1946, after the war had ended, the Kuwatanis returned to Tiburon, repaired the building and moved it from Beach Road to 1530 Tiburon Blvd.

When they realized none of their children were interested in taking over the business, they sold it to Mill Valley resident Frank Levy, who added it to his Miller Avenue cleaners. The two shops were named Vogue Cleaners.

By 1974, Levy was looking for an investor and found two in Belvedere residents Fred Rose and his wife, Judy. With their investment in the business, Judy says, she became one of the few women dry-cleaning business owners worldwide at the time.

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