Thursday, July 18, 2024

Machines at Ferro’s Laundrytown are out of service Nov. 24 as the owner awaits approval for a change in use. (Photo: Emilia Wisniewski)

Rindge Avenue residents are ready to forget about Ferro’s Laundrytown and line up for fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

The 336 Rindge Ave. laundromat, in operation since the 1960s alongside the Ferro’s FoodTown minimart, won Board of Zoning Appeals approval Thursday to be converted into a Krispy Krunchy Chicken fast-food restaurant.

Krispy Krunchy is a fried chicken restaurant that serves dishes such as mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and honey biscuits. It has locations in Boston, Attleboro, Braintree, Wilmington and Woburn within Massachusetts but can be found in more than 2,700 locations across 47 states – many of them in convenience stores and gas stations.

The eatery would become the closest restaurant to thousands of low-income residents of the neighborhood. A fried chicken sandwich at the Summer Shack by the Alewife red line T stop is $16; a similar sandwich at Krispy Krunchy is less than $7.

Meanwhile, the washers and dryers of Laundrytown sit often broken and unused in a dimly lit, mostly empty space. “Out of order” and “sorry, not working” signs hang on many.

Laundrytown “is not used enough to worry about keeping it open,” said Lu Valena, a consultant for Ferro’s, during the meeting. The quick-serve restaurant will better “fill the needs of the community.”

“The way that this has been presented to me is that the community really needs this,” Valena said in an interview.

Ferro’s previous owner, Joe Ferro, inherited the establishment from his father in 1985 and sold it to Faiyez Washwell in December 2021. Valena said she and Washwell connected during the summer to work on a plan to transform the laundromat portion of Ferro’s. “This is really through conversations that [Washwell] had with people in the neighborhood that have led him to decide to make this move,” Valena said.

Washwell declined to give direct comment.

No drastic physical changes were outlined in the proposal for FoodTown submitted to the board Oct. 18, but the deli that operates in the back left corner of the convenience store will close once the restaurant opens.

Longtime residents of Rindge Avenue expressed excitement over the development, which they felt could also bring needed economic traffic to the area. “People love to eat,” one resident said.

A park and sports fields are across the street, and the fenced-off Jerry’s Pond is being returned as public space as soon as summer 2025 after an expected 12 months of work. Most apartments in the area have in-unit laundry machines, and the need for Ferro’s Laundrytown has decreased over the years, residents said. One person who has lived in the area for more than 49 years said Laundrytown has always been dilapidated.

The Krunchy Chicken change was approved unanimously by board members.

“The way that I see [Washwell] engage with people in the community, he’s just very in touch and in step with what people need,” Valena said.