Inside Pioneer Hair Design on North Park Avenue in Rockville Centre, the walls are filled with hundreds of photos of the young boys and men who have sat in Jose Dominguez’s chair for a cut or shave.
While waiting on the bench inside the shop Tuesday, Colin Gregoire, 37, pointed to a photo of himself on the wall, which was taken when he was about 7 or 8. Although Gregoire, a Rockville Centre native, has since moved to Brooklyn Heights, he still makes the trip to Dominguez’s barber shop.
“No one can cut my hair like Jose can,” he said.
Gregoire is not the only loyal customer. Dominguez, 76, has been cutting hair in the village since he emigrated from Cuba 46 years ago, and many of his clients have been coming to him since they were kids.
“Now, they bring their own kids here,” he said. “I’m very proud of that.”
He estimates he’s given more than 300,000 haircuts. His clients come from all over Long Island and the Tri-State area, he said, including Kevin Connors, a host on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” who makes the trip from Connecticut, where he now lives, with his family.
Dominguez is a beloved man in Rockville Centre. His customers are often bringing him gifts, everything from cookies purchased at the nearby Front Street Bakery to autographed photos of celebrities they met for him to showcase in his store. One longtime customer, a U.S. Marine, even wrote to him while deployed overseas, sending an American flag and photo, which Dominguez also displays.
Last week, while dining out in Rockville Centre, he said a customer picked up his lunch.
“We have excellent clientele, the best in Long Island,” he said.
Dominguez pays it forward, sponsoring youth sports teams. And for the past 30 years, he’s been giving free haircuts to sick people who are either homebound or staying in one of the area’s hospitals.
“I do the best I can do,” he said. “Sometimes money is not everything.”
Michael Buckheit, 16, of Rockville Centre, has been coming to Pioneer since he was a toddler. He said Dominguez used to cut his hair for free when he was younger, because his family was going through some personal issues.
“He’s just a great barber and a great guy,” he said.
On Saturday, in conjunction with the annual Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day parade, Dominguez will be on the other side of the buzzer, getting his head shaved and making a donation to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer research.
Dominguez said he loves cutting hair and getting to know his customers.
“They tell me a lot of things,” he said. “They bring the problem here, I got the jokes. It’s excellent.”