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St. Marks Barbershop

16 St. Marks Place
St. Marks Barbershop 1 Barber Shops Hair Salons East Village

Stepping into St. Marks Barbershop is like stepping into a place that time forgot - with the bright red 1940s President chairs and the timeless look of the men who have been working in the barbershop for decades. I spoke with Albert, who was giving a man a close shave. He said that he had been here “a long time” and that the shop itself had been around since the 1960s or 70s. He gestured to Ada Calhoun’s book, St. Marks is Dead, where St. Marks Barbershop has a mention (under its old name, the Royal Unisex Barbershop). I read that the location had been owned by Italian and Polish immigrants for generations. Once I put the book back down, Albert shared with me that Ada Calhoun’s family continues to come to St. Marks to get their haircut.

Albert humbly mentioned that he is a third generation barber and that his grandfather started a successful barbershop in Russia. He took out a bag filled with old tools, including slightly tarnished metal combs before plastic became the norm and non-electric razors that the barber had to squeeze by hand. Though he does not use them, he keeps the old, well-worn tools around as a reminder of his legacy.

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St. Marks Barbershop 3 Barber Shops Hair Salons East Village
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St. Marks Barbershop 6 Barber Shops Hair Salons East Village
St. Marks Barbershop 1 Barber Shops Hair Salons East Village
St. Marks Barbershop 2 Barber Shops Hair Salons East Village

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More places on 8th Street

Lost Gem
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Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor

What a find... down a flight of stairs from street level on 8th Street, Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor is the "antithesis of a sports bar. " Artisan and craft beer are brought together in a friendly environment that certainly had us feeling like we were right at home. The Parlor is also named for the Arts and Crafts movement, “a cultural revolt against the ideals of industrialization. ”When we visited, we spoke to Robert, one of the two owners, with whom we thoroughly enjoyed chatting. Robert is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on dining out and traveling with special diets (he co-authored the series Let’s Eat Out! ), and he also has a background in acting and producing on Broadway. He told us that the other owner, Don, has an impressive resume working with the FBI and counterterrorism efforts both in New York and around the world - which left us wondering what brought this dynamic duo together as friends and eventually co-owners. Robert informed us it was a love of American Craft Beer and the visual and performing arts... and that they actually met enjoying a pint of beer in Manhattan. Just as intriguing as its owners, the interior of Arts and Crafts is beautifully designed; the sophisticated wallpaper is custom made by Bradbury and Bradbury, and the soft green and beige pattern was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite, supposedly. The constantly changing art is displayed along the wall opposite the bar, and an exposed brick wall and fireplace give the parlor a true “extension of your living room” feel. Described by Robert, as the “Bugatti of beer systems, ” the twenty plus beers the Parlor keeps on tap rotate monthly and are kept by this state of the art system at a refreshing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Robert also astounded us with how small the carbon footprint of the Parlor is — he told us they are very conscious of keeping things compostable and earth-friendly. In addition to their rotating display of art from both established and up-and-coming artists, the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor also hosts a monthly lecture series on the subjects of art as well as culinary topics. We could not get enough of how interesting this place is — both the concept of art and beer coming together and the two fascinating minds behind it.

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Lost Gem
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East Village Barber Shop

There are numerous barbershops and hair salons in the East Village, but I understood why the East Village Barbershop was so popular the second that I met Ruben, the owner. His charisma is infectious and his cheeky, humorous one-liners had me and the Manhattan Sideways photographer, Alex, grinning from the moment he began to speak. “I would have gotten my nails done if I knew you were coming, ” he joked before telling us about his extensive history as a barber, while expertly cutting a customer’s hair. He got his start in 1996 in Bayside, Queens and worked there for almost two decades before opening East Side Barbershop in 2013. When I asked him what sets him apart from other barbers, he replied, “My specialty is just being me. ” His customer, a young man named Steven, spoke up, telling me that he started going to Ruben just a couple months after he opened and has been visiting him for his haircut ever since. Ruben smiled and said, “I have the best customers who come here. This neighborhood is amazing – they’re not even my customers, they’re my friends. ” As Ruben continued to tell me about his life, how being a barber runs in his family and how he learned the art at a young age, three more people walked into the small shop. He greeted each person who came by warmly, including those who did not even enter the store: He yelled greetings at pedestrians who waved from the street. It was clear that for the blocks surrounding his store, Ruben is a celebrity. The gruff man from Queens continued joking around with both us and his customers, making everyone laugh with lines like, “Will you hug me? ” and “Imagine me with makeup... now forget about it. ” When a man on the street shouted a precocious quote back at him, he turned to us and said, “You see that? All the men around here think I look sexy. ” Meanwhile, he performed incredibly precise work on Steven, creating a perfectly straight line along his part. Afterwards, he finished by massaging Steven’s head with a hot mint oil towel. With a look of satisfaction he said to me, “I’m good at what I do and I don’t care about anybody else. ”