Text and photos by Stacie Joy
Like most local businesses, Raul’s Barber Shop at 11 Avenue B (between Houston and Second Street) is struggling during the pandemic.
Raul Velez Sr., 78, has been at the head of his eponymous barber shop on Avenue B for 59 years, and he and his son Junior show me around space.
I meet barber Cesar Barros, 63, who has been cutting hair here for 32 years, and learn more about the space, which was separated into individual sections for increased COVID precautions. Business has been slower recently and the shop is working to adjust.
Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the barber shop no longer bears Raul’s name on the awning, nor the phone number, and the mural of Puerto Rican fighter and entertainer Hector “Macho” Camacho that used to grace the gate is also missing.
The building (in a package deal along with its neighbor at 9 Avenue B), which was previously owned by Michael Chang now belongs to notorious landlord Steve Croman, and the shop was told to paint over everything. Junior tells me there has been no rent increase yet but they are concerned about changes might be forthcoming.
Raul used to cut my hair when I was a kid back in the mid '70s. He has to have witnessed so much change on that stretch of Ave B over all that time. Am amazed he's still there though I can see him getting kicked to the curb by Croman.
That is some awesome retro flooring. And I love the mural. How rare to find businesses like these with roots in the community and personality anymore. Treasure it while you can.
Truly, treasure it!! Because Croman is one of the crappiest landlords in NYC, and I say that as someone who has one of his buildings behind where I live.
Only a Croman would make you take your business's phone number off your awning (which is probably not legal for him to do, but he presumes you can't afford to fight him on it).
did anyone notice Raul's made an appearance on the set of Louis Vuitton's FW 2019 show?
Great eye!!! Great catch!!
Wait they were told to paint over the name "Raul"??? WTF?
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