Entering Dan’s Barber and Styling Salon is like stepping back into a time when people cruised the strip, drank diner milkshakes and dropped words like “nifty” in casual conversation.
“In an unlimited number of salons in an unlimited number of strip malls, the ambiance is all the same. It’s either walking into a pristine white ‘80s science lab or a makeshift rainforest. Long gone are the days of the three-chair barber arguing with a regular about the local sports team,” one Yelp reviewer wrote. “Except at Dan’s.”
This month the barber shop, which is housed in a small, modest building on Monroe Street, celebrated its 60th anniversary. Though the space has expanded over the years, much of it remains the same as it was when the late Dan Flambouras emigrated to the United States from Greece and started the business.
Customers still sit on the original green vinyl barber chairs, and the barbers still know how to do a traditional straight razor shave, a practice that has mostly fallen by the wayside in the hair cutting business. A cat named Laney greets customers at the door, and soul music plays in the background. A regular cut is just $10.50, cash only.
Providing haircuts at an affordable price was always important to Dan Flambouras, said his granddaughter and current owner Janina Flambouras. No one keeps a barber shop open 60 years for the money.
“’You’re not going to be rich with the shop,’” she recalled Flambouras saying before he died 10 years ago. “‘It’s about being part of the community.’”
Dan Flambouras was a quiet, shrewd business man, she said. He was self conscious of his thick Greek, so he didn’t like to talk.
Flambouras had an eye for talent. He always scouted the best barbers from his barber school, which closed 30 years ago. And he gave Mike Tabit his first – and only – job 51 years ago. Tibit has earned the title of flattop king, and he still works the same chair as when he started.
“I consider this my home away from home,” he said.
In the corner near his chair hangs a photo of Tabit cutting a baby’s hair sometime in the ‘60s. In the photo, the boy is so small his mother has to hold him in her arms. The customer had come in and given Tabit the photo when the customer was 49.
Barbers at Dan’s estimate that each barber has 50 to 100 regulars. Tabit is on his fifth generation with one family; and he said the shop is always getting new customers.
One customer, Robert Horton, said he’s been coming to the shop to get a high and tight, old-fashioned haircut for about three years now.
He said he comes for the cozy, comfortable atmosphere. Something about modern salons just doesn’t feel right.
“[Barber shops are] where the old fellers came to talk … and socialize,” he said. “I’m an old-fashioned guy. I like an old-fashioned haircut.”