Wealthy customers save famous Astor Place barbershop from closing

That was a close shave.

A group of deep-pocketed New York customers has stepped in to save the iconic Astor Place Hair Stylists barbershop from going out of business after nearly 75 years.

Photo by Helayne Seidman

The East Village classic — whose customers have included everyone from pop artist Andy Warhol to actor Robert de Niro and Mayor Bill de Blasio — announced last month that it was going to close its doors for good around Thanksgiving because of flailing business amid COVID-19.

But money has been raised to keep the landmark Manhattan hair hangout “open for at least another 75 years,’’ financier Jonathan Trichter told The Post on Monday.

Trichter said he and other investors — including Mike Bloomberg adviser and former Hillary Clinton aide Howard Wolfson, pollster Jefrey Pollock and gaming mogul Jeff Gural — banded together to prop up the business to ensure it “will continue to be a global arbiter of style and chic.’’

The now-locks-challenged Wolfson told The Post, “I’ve been going to Astor since I had a full head of hair, and I’m happy to help an institution that has meant so much to me and this city. First visit, 1983.

“It used to take a lot longer to cut my hair in those days,’’ Wolfson quipped. “But the high quality is still the same.”

One of the shop’s managers, Paul Vezza, whose grandfather, Enrico Vezza Sr., founded the three-generation family business, called the last-minute lifeline “a tremendous blessing.

“We were going to close this week. This was an 11th-hour save. Better days are ahead,’’ Vezza said.

The New York institution, which saved itself once before during an economic downturn in the 1970s — by churning out punk-rock ’dos — has also catered to the likes of actors Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum, Kevin Bacon and Edward Byrne and comedian Sinbad, Vezza said.

The manager praised Gural, who owns the building where the basement shop is located — and who also helped save the shop from demise by waiving rent for the time being.

“Gural is a good guy — the best. My dad would always tell me, ‘Jeff is a smart man,’ ” Vessa said.

Gural told The Post that both Trichter and Mayor de Blasio separately reached out to him to see if he could help stop the store’s shut-down — and it was a no-brainer for him.

“Nobody wanted to see it closed,” Gural said. “They’ve been a great tenant.

“It was a team effort to keep Astor open.”

Vessa said the shop employed about 50 people before the pandemic but that number had to be cut by about half because of the bad economy and past coronavirus shutdowns of non-essential businesses.

As for the shop’s deep-pocketed saviors, “I’m glad for the people working here,” Vezza said.

De Blasio, a regular Astor customer, was thrilled that his barber shop was staying in business.

“I’ve been going to Astor Hair since my college days, and I’ll be going back until there’s nothing left to cut,” the mayor, an NYU alumnus said.

“I was proud to work with some fellow customers to find a way to keep this institution in business, and I hope New Yorkers will think about all their favorite local spots this holiday season,” de Blasio said.

 

Credits
By Carl Campanile,
New York Post | Nov 23, 2020 at 12:15 pm
Photo by Helayne Seidman

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