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Upscale LI barbershops on cutting edge of cool

Noble Savage Barbershop in Bay Shore offers a luxury experience for customers who want more than just a haircut.  The high-end shop is a "gentleman's retreat" and offers manicures, pedicures, facials and massages with a complimentary drink. (Credit: Barry Sloan)

Men who enter are greeted with velvet ropes and addressed as “Sir.”

And there’s no foul language or rowdy behavior allowed — only acceptable discourse and pleasant temperaments.

Sound like a barbershop? Probably not to most people, but that may soon be changing. Some barbershops on Long Island and elsewhere aren’t just getting makeovers; they’re being reinvented as upscale “experiences” that offer much more than the traditional haircut and shave.

“People are tired of going to get the basic cut — they want an experience,” says Keith Banks, 54, a Wyandanch resident who owns Sir Shave in the hamlet where customers are literally given the red-carpet treatment and no cursing or acting out is allowed.

New barbershops making the cut today are also larger than their ol’ school predecessors and their offerings range from free alcoholic drinks and cappuccino served in china cups with saucers to scalp massages, manicures, pedicures and a welcome blast from the past — shoe shines. Some have custom suits made.

The owners of some of these new barbershops on Long Island are part of another new trend as well — they’re men and women who have no personal barbering experience who hire experienced barbers and see the barbershop purely as a great investment that can answer the needs of today’s time-pressed and stressed-out customer.

“I love the whole vibe of this place,” said Mike Cardascia, 44, of Bay Shore, who was getting a haircut recently at the new Noble Savage Barbershop in the hamlet. “As a guy it’s cool to have the option of getting a little pampering.” Cardascia owns a dance studio in Hauppauge and added he finds the shop “relaxing, rustic, masculine and inviting.”

According to authorities, barbering is one of the fastest-growing occupations today — and it’s one of the few professions not threatened by technology or services provided through the internet. You can’t get a cut or shave via the internet.

Maura Scali-Sheahan, CEO of the Jacksonville, Florida-based National Association of Barber Boards of America, says there was an 18 percent increase in the number of barbershops nationwide from 2008 to 2018, and a 34 percent and 47 percent annual increase in licensed barbers and barbering schools, respectively, for the same period.

Scali-Sheahan says baby boomers and millennials have helped drive the figures upward with their interest in different barbershop experiences.

“There’s always going to be a place for the high-end barbershop and the two- or three-chair shop on the corner in a small town,” Scali-Sheahan says. “But you have a lot of baby boomers in their 60s and 70s who want a barbershop, not a unisex salon. I can always tell when a cosmetologist does a guy’s hair.”

Scali-Sheahan says millennials can be very fashion conscious, and grooming is a big part of that. She adds that in today’s stressed-out world, people in general are looking to pamper themselves. “They’re more aware of quality of life. There’s a shop out there for every customer.”

NOBLE SAVAGE, 6 4th Ave., Bay Shore, 631-954-3620,

Noble Savage opened in mid-January and the décor is the work of the three owners — Carlos Delgado, 35, of Centereach, Cesar Torres, 40, of North Babylon and Tom O’Rourke, 48, of East Patchogue — who surprisingly have no experience in interior design. The vibe is moody and pub-like with lots of brick and wood and cool mural-like art that you might find someplace in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood. Customers can sip on espresso, tea, wine and beer, and some of the more out-of-the-ordinary offerings here are teeth whitening and ancient Indian scalp massages.


SIR SHAVE, 10 Station Drive, Unit 7, Wyandanch, 631-213-2078,

Located steps from the Long Island Rail Road’s Wyandanch station, after passing the red velvet ropes, walking into Sir Shave is like walking back in time to New York in the 1940s — with elegant wood furnishings, subway tiles, wainscoting, wood-look flooring, chess and checkerboards ready for playing helping to set the tone. You can get an old-fashioned shoe shine here, but part of the more modern spin on this shop is that it’s unisex despite its masculine look and men’s custom’s suits can be ordered here. This shop also has star power. Scenes for the BET television series “The Family Business” were shot here.

MAD MEN, 345 Hillside Ave., Williston Park, 516-280-3987,

No, it’s not named after the TV show. The “mad” here refers to various ways men can show they’re “mad,” explains owner and attorney, Jessica Dennehy, 37, of Merrick. And one of the many ways it's expressed here is through vintage-looking photographs of gangsters and guns hung throughout the shop to complement the rich dark wood and leather furniture and traditional décor. Custom suits can be ordered here and there’s a pool table, but the well-stocked bar is just for show and is used only as a reception desk.

MAD MEN, 3269 Merrick Rd., Wantagh, 516-809-6705,

Think a cut above the average barbershop, but this higher end shop is very edgy and has a youthful, urban vibe that’s a little more casual. Its edginess comes from graffiti and paint splatter everywhere, distressed wood furnishings, stark lighting and even some sneakers affixed to the ceiling. It’s also owned by Jessica Dennehy, who has a third Mad Men shop in the Dominican Republic.

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