The sun-bleached facade of Tiffany Couture Cleaners looks unassuming enough, nestled among the storefronts of Commercial Center. However, the 43-year-old business is actually one of Las Vegas entertainment’s biggest stars as the go-to dry cleaner for all of the Strip’s major shows (though they’ll happily clean your shirt and slacks). We stopped by on a Monday morning, as hundreds of garments from Zarkana, Absinthe and Jersey Boys were being dropped off, to talk with owners Judy and Dan Del Rossi about how Tiffany works its magic.
Mondays are your busiest days. Walk me through an average Monday morning at Tiffany Couture Cleaners. Judy Del Rossi: This started at 6 o’clock this morning. So the drivers pick up stuff from the shows early Monday morning and come in here. Most of it has to be back either today or tomorrow by noon. It’s a fast turnaround for us. When all this comes in, everybody stops what they’re doing, the show pieces get sorted and spot-checked, then moved up front to the dry cleaner. Then the pressers put everything else aside and work on pressing the show pieces. So, the show goes on. Some people have other clothes they can wear—the show doesn’t.
Why did your family open the business in Las Vegas? J.D.: My dad and his two brothers learned dry cleaning as a trade growing up back east. They owned a couple dry cleaners in eastern Pennsylvania called G&G Dry Cleaners—their last name is Germano. My dad came out to Vegas on a Kiwanis tour and fell in love with it. So he came out here in 1970 and bought a dry cleaners that was open but not working. He and my mom ran it during the day, and at night he worked as a dealer in the casinos Downtown to make ends meet. As business picked up, he talked his two brothers into selling the cleaners back east, and they moved out here. So for years, the three brothers ran Tiffany Cleaners. They were dry cleaning men.
Why Tiffany? Where did they get the name from? J.D.: It was named Tiffany Cleaners when they bought it. I don’t know who named it or why, but when my dad bought it, he took it as-is in 1970.
When did Tiffany Cleaners become the go-to for Las Vegas shows? Was that its goal from the beginning? Dan Del Rossi: I think it’s been that way probably since the origination. And that being because those guys did really high-end work. They didn’t know any other way to clean except for the best possible way. They were like us, out on the floor, making sure it’s being done right. So that word being out, the shows started seeking us out. It’s been forever. I mean, Liberace had some pieces you had to hand-clean. The first time I walked in here, I saw a piece that must’ve weighed about 50, 60 pounds. It was a huge cape, and they were hand cleaning it on the spotting board. It’s times like those that built the reputation. Now it’s just known that if you need something done, come to us.
What is the most challenging show garment to clean? D.D.: Any type of leather. You have white and black leather, reds, they’re all cleaned individually. A lot of them have fringes, damaged collars or makeup from the performers on them. It’s a very delicate, hands-on process with certain chemicals and soaps. Pieces that have glued-on rhinestones are also very difficult. For example, we have a corset from Rock of Ages with Swarovski rhinestones. It’s very well made, but they’re not properly heat-fixed on here. They would all come off in improper cleaning.
How many garments do you clean in a day, and how many of those are from shows? J.D.: I’d probably say 1,200 total, with shirts and everything.
D.D.: Fifteen to 20 percent of that is from shows. We have three valet home-delivery routes, which we cover most of the city with, and we have two stores now. That keeps us busy. But shows are probably 60 percent of labor time.
What is the most challenging part of what you do? D.D.: To maintain a good staff is the biggest challenge of the whole thing. The cleaning aspect, the delivery, the shows—it gets done. But the employees are the big part of our business, and finding the right crew is essential. You can put an ad in the paper and you’ll have 20 people come in saying they know how to press. Until they show you, and they’re clueless. One of our pressers has been with us for 40 years. Most of our pressers are in the five- to six-year range. It takes time. We demand excellence and quality as much as possible. It takes years, and when they understand what it’s about, then they stay with us for a while.
Do you have any favorite stories or memories from over the years? J.D.: I grew up here as a teen idolizing the Osmonds. So when Donny and Marie came here to perform, and we received a call to do their clothes, well, you would’ve thought I was a teenager again back in the day. The clothes came in, and Donny Osmond’s jacket had his name embroidered inside with his handwriting, and I was like “I am putting this jacket on!” I was back to being a teenager, starstruck.