I can't find any information on Empire Dry Cleaning Service. It is inset in letters in the front of the property on Dumaine Street at the corner of N. Rendon Street. Do you know if that was indeed a dry cleaning establishment in the past?
Terry St. Germain
Thanks for your question, which came to us via my Facebook page and gives me a chance to remind readers they can send me questions there. Empire Dry Cleaning Service did operate at that spot, which is smack dab in the middle of a Bayou St. John neighborhood, about a block away from Pal's Lounge, a favorite watering hole of locals. The earliest mention I can find of the business is from 1938, when a writeup in The Times-Picayune called Empire "one of the most modernly equipped and efficiently operated dry cleaning plants in New Orleans."
Located at 3201 Dumaine St., Empire was owned and operated by N.R. Macaluso. Though I'm not clear when the business opened, in that November 1938 article, Macaluso said the volume of his business was better at that time than in any corresponding period during the 10 years he had been in the dry cleaning business.
In the newspaper piece, Macaluso mentions the building was damaged by fire several months earlier, and the rebuilding process allowed him to add newer techniques and machinery to the operation. The April 1938 fire was said to have caused $4,000 in damages to the business, then owned by P.J. Lacassin. It's not clear how long Empire operated, but Macaluso died in 1986.