Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Visit to Don Juan’s Barber Shop on 4th Street

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Juan Rosado of Don Juan's Barber Shop is busy adjusting a themed barber cape with extra paper towel lining for a young client when I show up to interview him.

There’s a line of people waiting to see him at the shop, 303 E. Fourth St. between Avenue C and Avenue D, and very little rest between customers. He pauses only to sweep up, clean the station and prepare for the next clip.

Surrounded by bottles of aftershave lotion and powders, clippers and shavers, artwork and stickers covering every surface, tees and caps for sale crammed into corners, the space has two large screen TVs and a display case festooned with a variety of snapback caps. There are people outside milling around patiently waiting in the cold for one of the seats on the tiny waiting bench to become free.

Rosado answers my questions about the shop’s history and the regulars who come to him for fades, trims and cuts.

How long has Don Juan's Barber Shop been in business?

Since 1999. When I first started cutting hair, I set up in the empty lot next to the Third Street Post Office and ran an extension cord to give $5 haircuts to the neighborhood.

After putting in some time at Raul’s on Avenue B and a couple of other places, I opened Don Juan’s in an old dime-bag drug-sales spot, Chuchi’s Candyland. This was during the Giuliani years and the crackdown on narcotics. Due to a past marijuana conviction, I had to use my brother’s name on the lease. My brother Edgar works for UPS. We co-own the shop.

What is special to you about being in the East Village?

I was born and raised here and live around the corner at Third and Avenue C.

What is the most popular service you provide?

All services run $15 to $25, with skin fades, comb overs and designs being the most popular.

Who is a typical client?

We see a lot of firefighters, law enforcement, FBI/Homeland Security/CIA, local people, and some famous people such as John Leguizamo and DJ Enuff. We’re also a family-friendly shop.

The shop seems nonstop busy. Do you have any plans to expand?

No. We get our lease renewed every two years. Our landlord is a good guy, and we always hope there’s no problem!

Juan also has his own line of apparel: pins, caps, hoodies, shirts and bags under the StackChips apparel line, which you can buy at the barbershop or at Arlo Hotel in Soho. Also for sale at Don Juan’s, Freaky Frige’s I’m Everywhere line of products (we’ve featured Frige’s work before here).

The shop's hours are Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., but sometimes Don Juan will stay open until 7 p.m.


Laura Goggin said...

Juan is a great guy, and also a talented photographer!

Anonymous said...

THIS is the East Village!

Neighbor said...

Please, please, please push for a longer term lease renewal than two years next time!

marjorie said...

Great photos and interview by Stacie Joy, as ever.

Greg Masters said...

Juan gives a great shave, is a nice guy and takes wonderful photos of the birds in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

*heart eyes emoji* to all of this!!

Joon 3rd st. said...

Got my 1st fade from Juan 25+ yrs ago while in JHS on a class trip to Wilford beauty academy (I think that was the name of the school)!! Yrs after he always took care of us on the block w the $5 haircuts, much respect & blessings his way.

Anonymous said...

Don Juan is an Icon in the community, a true self made LES success story, and he has great stories too!

Izzy... said...

Don juan is one of the brothers from nyc we both were raised there and is a true artist on his from lower east side born and raised and ive to this day dont no anyone that has talent like him....he definitely is a great person and honest artist.....always loving him as a brother and alway stop by when im in town to get the latest flavor hair cut hes designed....truly one of a kind!!!

Jerry Caraballo said...

I've know Juan since we were kids. I live out of state now, but everytime I come to the old neighborhood, I always go to him to get a cut. He's an L.E.S Legend, and a great person.