Out of a tragic death that shocked the town, inspiration blossomed for a new barbershop seeking to reclaim some of the magic lost.
When , barbers and customers alike in his Kings Highway shop, , were distraught. Montemurro, 56, was the heart and soul of the barbershop that for 30 years serviced everyone from toddlers getting their first haircuts to older guys coming to grips with balding pates.
“Our mentor was gone. Our friend was gone. Our hearts were broken,” says barber Joe Graziano of West Deptford.
There was no more joy in going to work every day as the banter among the barbers fell off, adds George Miraglia of Cherry Hill, who had worked for Montemurro 11 years.
Then came a serendipitous moment for the pair: A shoe store at the other end of the Kings Highway downtown strip . The landlord approached the pair.
“We probably never would have left Frank, but it was time for a new start,” Miraglia says.
Merging their surnames, Miraglia and Graziano decided to open one of Haddonfield’s newest businesses—. Rounding out the staff are Rich Norris, Stacey Eisenger and Kim Haggard, who worked with Montemurro for 16 years.
Soon contractors were tearing out cabinets, installing brick walls and laying down laminate flooring. Ceiling fans and track lighting came next and Graziano stepped up his online search for vintage photographs and advertisements.
The square box of a store had been painted purple and green. “It looked like the Joker lived here,” Graziano says. “We wanted a shop that looks like it could be in New York City or Center City (Philadelphia).”
When the pair found an old barber pole in a Woodbury diner and sweet-talked its owner into a sale, they knew their careers could be golden once again.
To alert their longtime customers, they added a sign below the front window advertising the barbers’ names. As the motto goes, “same face, new place.”
‘We cut. That’s all we do.’
“This is not a salon and we are not stylists,” says Miraglia. “We’re barbers. We have only one sink because we don’t do shampoos, unless you have a lot of product in your hair.”
They don’t do shaves either, although every customer gets his neck shaved with hot lather and a straight razor. Eyebrows are trimmed when needed, and ear and nose hairs are clipped routinely. Most haircuts take 15 to 20 minutes. The cut costs $18, $16 for seniors and $17 for children.
“We don’t dye hair. We cut. That’s all we do,” Miraglia says.
Women are not invited as clients, except to oversee haircuts for youngsters. A plastic crate of toys stashed in a lounge area—where coffee is always brewing and occasional cold drinks are offered—is evidence that children are welcome. The new customers are welcome alongside longtime regulars of the barbers.
“We have a good, steady following and our clients are finding us,” explains Miraglia.
The barbers are trying to bring back some of the “old-school barbershop” feel of to MirAno’s. There’s a lot of banter among the barbers, and sometimes among the customers.
“We want people to feel comfortable, not just run in and out. We want them to stop in if they’re walking by,” Miraglia says.
The shop doesn’t take reservations, and customers flow in at a steady pace. Customers sign in as they enter, although they can wait for their favorite cutter. Customers who wait in the lounge area are under the gaze of Hollywood personalities like Paul Newman and Elvis Presley, frozen in time as they get trims on movie sets.
Although MirAno’s is operating now, the official grand opening, complete with a barbershop quartet, is set for Sept. 15.
MirAno’s is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 228 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield. The shop’s number is 856-520-8694 and its website is at miranosbarbershop.com.