Couple literally takes Tony Award to the cleaners

MORRIS HEIGHTS, The Bronx (WABC) -- When Broadway's best gather to honor themselves on Sunday night at the Tony Awards, two business owners from the Bronx will be in the crowd at Radio City Music Hall.

Yet they won't have to wait and wonder if they're going to win because the couple picked up their trophy at a special pre-show ceremony Monday evening -- meaning they were able to literally take Tony to the cleaners.

Bruce and Sarah Barish were honored for "excellence in the theater," recognized for their decades of service to the theatrical community. Among those applauding were costume designers who depend on this business to keep their creations clean.

The Morris Heights section of the Bronx is several miles -- and a world away -- from Broadway, yet the link between this dry cleaning business and The Great White Way goes back more than a hundred years.

In their office, Bruce and Sarah Barish hung posters of the many of the shows they've cleaned over the years.

Thousands of costumes from dozens of shows are picked up each week and brought to Ernest Winzer Cleaners.

They're currently cleaning some of the tailcoats from "Hamilton," but a show doesn't have to be in a hit to receive their care.

"We want everybody to feel clean and comfortable in their costume," Sarah Barish said. "I mean, they want to know that everything is going to shine, and it's going to help them perform on stage."

Bruce Barish's grandfather bought this business more than 65 years ago, and he has been working here since childhood. For more than a quarter of a century, his wife Sarah has been by his side.

This spring, she was the one who first learned the business earned a special Tony Award for excellence, and she said she was "speechless." Her husband was "pretty much blown away."

Their son, Brandon, is from the fourth generation of the family to work at this unique business.

We found him steaming outfits worn by the New York Knicks City Dancers, giving them special attention like so many of the garments, shoes and hand bags entrusted to their care.

"We have to be perfect," Bruce said. "I mean, we've picked up in snowstorms. We've picked up in hurricanes. You know, we don't miss a beat. Every day basically, the show must go on."

In the best tradition of the theater, the show must and does go on every day at Ernest Winzer cleaners. There's even a reminder sign with that slogan hanging from the ceiling, near the place where the firm's Tony will rest.

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