Astor Place Hairstylists will close at the end of November after nearly 75 years, due to COVID-19. "At full staff we had 54 barbers and beauticians," the shop's floor manager, Frank Luciano, told Gothamist. "Now we're down to 25 at most, depending on the day. We are following all the protocols and spacing everything out, with partitions, but we're not able to cover expenses."
Opened in 1946, the NYU-area barbershop hit its peak in the '80s and '90s when it was one of the biggest in the world, occupying multiple floors of its Astor / Broadway location with weekend waits over an hour long. Cheap cuts for college kids was part of the draw, but Astor Place Hairstylists also helped popularize punk, new wave and hip hop styles, as well as getting things etched in your fade.
Everyone from Robert De Niro to New Kids on The Block got their hair cut there -- autographed photos cover the walls of the shop -- and Mayor Bill de Blasio is a regular customer. He stopped by for a cut over the weekend, actually: “After hearing the horrible news, the Mayor visited his friends at Astor Place Hair on Saturday," a de Blasio spokesperson told Gothamist. "They are a true New York City small business institution and we hope for a positive path forward.”
Luciano says the shop will close after Thanksgiving "unless some miracle happens." In the meantime, they've set up a GoFundMe to help out the staff. "This is not a plea to try to stay open, as that is too big of a task," they write in the GoFundMe. "The hardest part of closing is putting all of our dedicated stylists out of work. We have persevered through some challenging times such as long hair of the 60s and 70s, 9/11, and stock market crashes. Unfortunately the last few months battling Covid19 pandemic has proven fruitless. We so truly love our Astor family past and present, employees, clients, and friends. Any support for our peeps would be appreciated more than you know!"
There is a 2014 documentary about the shop, titled Astor Barber All-Stars, which is available with an Amazon Prime subscription, and you can watch the trailer for that below.
You can also watch early-'80s MTV segments with Peter Wolf of J. Geils Band filmed at Astor Place Hairstylists, 2018 documentary short Big Mike Takes Lunch, which captures a day in the life of manager Michael Saviello, as well as other news reports, a commercial, and a Tom Brosseau take-a-way-show shot there, below.