After 50 years of cleaning clothes in Ocean Beach, couple plans to travel
Published - 05/09/19 - 08:05 AM | 4542 views | 6 6 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Shan and Steve Jacobs proudly display a proclamation from former City Councilmember Lorie Zapf presented on the 70th anniversary of Embassy Cleaners declaring Sept. 23, 2016 ‘Embassy Cleaners Day’ in District 2. The business was permanently closed April 26.
Shan and Steve Jacobs proudly display a proclamation from former City Councilmember Lorie Zapf presented on the 70th anniversary of Embassy Cleaners declaring Sept. 23, 2016 ‘Embassy Cleaners Day’ in District 2. The business was permanently closed April 26.
For 50 years the alarm clock in Steve and Shan Jacobs' Tierrasanta home has gone off at 4:15 a.m.

At 5 a.m. the couple is on the road, driving in darkness on deserted freeways, to their business, Embassy Cleaners at 4320 Voltaire St. in Ocean Beach.

By 5:20 the business lights are on and the couple begins the careful process of cleaning dozens of clothing items customers will be picking up later in the day.

Don't be surprised if that alarm clock is sitting atop the Jacobs' trash container this week.

The couple locked the doors of Embassy Cleaners for the final time on Friday, April 26, ending an era that began in 1946 when Jacobs' father Glenn, with a business partner, opened the shop, also on Voltaire Street but close to Point Loma High School.

One of Glenn Jacobs' brothers was also opening a dry cleaning business in Midland, Mich. and the two agreed on using the name Embassy Cleaners.

Glenn Jacobs and his partner split in 1957, with Jacobs moving the business to its present location.

Steve Jacobs, who "had been around the business all my life," became partners with his father in 1969 following two years at Mesa College. Since his father's passing in 1981, "it's just Shan and me," he said with a laugh.

Over the years, Steve has worked the front and Shan stays in back where she calls herself "the assembler."

"I always wanted to retire younger like we all do," Steve said while greeting customers by name and delivering cleaned clothing on his last day. "But this is the perfect time, everything is coming together and we've decided to enjoy other things."

The Jacobs noted they had the same landlord since the early 1960s but that family finally sold the small strip mall in 2017. After it became apparent the new owner had other plans for the space, the Jacobs' contracted with a company from Los Angeles that dismantled the machinery for sale.

But the Jacobs freely admit there is much sadness at this time.

"We've both been crying a lot," Shan said. "[Our customers] are like our family. We're going to miss these people. "We've been part of this community for so many years."

"I'm going to miss talking with everyone," Steve said. "They're a piece of our family. All the social stuff, learning about and interacting with them. It's not just about doing their clothes."

Donating services for schools and charities was always an Embassy Cleaners practice. For years, the Jacobs cleaned the marching band uniforms for Point Loma High at no charge. Band parents brought the Jacobs a retirement gift package with school and band clothing.

"Were pretty proud of that since the schools don't receive much money," Steve said.

The Jacobs have one daughter, Allison, who is married to Matthew McGee. They have two grandchildren, Chloe (15) and Dylan (14).

In retirement, the Jacobs have plans to spend more nights at sea where they love cruising on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Shan noted they already have 140 nights' credit.

"We're going on a Caribbean cruise in a couple of weeks as our retirement gift," Steve said. "And later we're going for a week in Cancun where I've always wanted to see the ruins."

With their 49th anniversary coming up in November, also planned are trips to Hawaii and Costa Rica and an Alaskan cruise plus shorter visits to other areas.

"A lot of going!" Steve said with a grin.

The couple also has a collection of older Ford Mustangs that need attention.

"The business has been very good to us. We were able to send our daughter to a private college," Shan said. "You don't get rich doing it, but it's been great being in a community like this."

Steve calls most of his hundreds of loyal customers "half-friends. You learn a lot about them but you don't get to go places with them. You see their kids grow up, customers that now have grandchildren."

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Douglas Barron
September 03, 2019
Hey Steve,

Have the the greatest retirement travels posible . See you at the 55th reunion.

Best Wishes!

Doug and Marlene Barron

Henderson, NV 89044
John LaDue
August 30, 2019
Congratulations you two. Many years of hard work are paying off. Retirement is great don't waste a minute.
Cheryle Vickers
May 12, 2019
Great write-up for two wonderful friends. Time to enjoy your family and each other. Love to you both.
Julie Hedelson Thoma
May 11, 2019
Steve and Shan, congratulations! I have many fond memories of visiting Glenn and Ellen and the three of you with John and Marcia! Enjoy your travels!! Am in Cancun now, and it’s beautiful. Lots of love.
Julie Hedelson Thoma
May 11, 2019
(my name is too long! Thomas now)
Robert Burns
May 10, 2019
They are wonderful people with a wonderful business history. We'd love to keep them but they deserve their freedom.
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