Monday is going to be a great hair day in New York City!
Big Apple barbershops and salons are preparing to go all-out as the city enters Phase Two of reopening from its coronavirus closure Monday — with one owner even setting up a DJ booth and a bar to celebrate.
“Drinks are ready to go. You can’t spell barbershop without ‘bar,’” said Alex Shamuelov, co-owner of Ace of Cuts barbershop in the East Village.
To toast the city coming back to life, he plans to offer customers refreshments from a fully stocked bar inside the shop on East 6th Street near Avenue A, and set up an outdoor DJ table, he said.
“Our customers can’t wait. They’ve been telling us how much they miss us. I can’t wait to see everybody, how much hair has grown on their heads, and what I’m going to transform them into.”
The city’s much-anticipated second reopening phase — which also allows outdoor dining at restaurants, in-person retail shopping and open playgrounds — came not a minute too soon for some New Yorkers, who say they’ve been plagued by perpetual bad hair days.
“I’ve been trimming and taking care of split ends myself, but I’ve done no styling whatsoever. It’s a disaster,” said Elizabeth Short, a 22-year-old student in the East Village, whose shoulder-length brown hair has become dry and unruly.
“I’ve pretty much resigned myself to putting it up in a bun or ponytail,” she added. “I’m looking forward to finally wearing it down and feeling pretty again.”
Salon and barbershop owners will, however, have to navigate new coronavirus regulations. The chop shops can only reopen at 50 percent capacity and customers have to be kept six-feet away from everyone but their stylist.
Tim Toohey, owner of the new salon-barbershop hybrid Public Image NYC, said he’s done “a million little things” such as buying tubs of hand sanitizer and masks for customers, along with rearranging the reception area to give clients more space.
And he’s “super excited” to finally start lopping off locks at the West 27th Street studio in Chelsea — which was supposed to open in April but was delayed by the pandemic.
“I’m hearing from people who can’t wait to fix the botched haircut their spouse or friend tried on them,” he said.
Other barber shops owners said they planned to separate chairs with see-through plastic curtains at least six feet apart, and to use sign-up sheets to encourage customers not to linger inside the business.
Meanwhile, owners of Manhattan eateries were gearing up Sunday for the return of outdoor dining.
Brendan McElroy, managing partner of St. Dymphna’s Irish pub, was setting up five tables outside the business in anticipation of more people being out and about.
“This is basically going to provide some sort of place for a limited number of customers to sit and enjoy some drinks,” McElroy said at the watering hole, which serves pub grub on Avenue A near East Seventh Street. “Any sort of return to normalcy, as minor as it may be, is exciting at this point.”
He added, “We have an in-house carpenter who’s going to be making custom flower boxes to enclose tables and to block off street traffic, and create a little patio.”
The owners of other eateries said they plan to tweak normal dining practices to make them more germ-safe.
“New Yorkers want their social life back… but their habits have changed. So for instance we won’t be offering menus at tables,” said Paolo Rossi, co-owner of Giano restaurant on East Seventh Street in the East Village.
Instead, customers will be able to scan a bar code to access the menu on their cellphones to avoid touching anything that makes them uncomfortable, he said.
Omar Tawakol, managing partner at the East Village hookah bar Horus Cafe, said he plans to reopen with six to eight outdoor tables.
“We are going to keep it sanitary. I have over 250 hookahs, and I’m going to make sure that no hookah gets used twice in the same day, to eliminate any possibility of contamination,” he said. “A lot of bars went out of business during this pandemic … So the people that are still in business, they are hustlers.”
The reopening preparations came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said New York state’s coronavirus metrics are “on the right path,” with fewer than one percent of the 67,526 tests administered in New York state coming back positive.
Under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, car dealerships and real estate services may also open, along with houses of worship at 25 percent capacity.