50 years of barber shop that offers coffee, chat and a trim
'You would come in as a customer and leave as a friend'
07 May, 2019 — By Dan Carrier
NOT only have a lot of heads of hair been trimmed, shaved, cut and generally smartened up at Andrew’s barber shop – a lot of stories have been told, coffee drunk and lifelong friendships made.
The hairdressers, opened by Andrew Michael in Camden Park Road, Camden Town, in 1969, and now run by his son Antony, celebrated its 50th birthday this week with scores of regulars dropped in to wish them well.
Mr Michael grew up in Pyrga, a village in Cyprus, moving to London in 1964 to find work to help support his family back home. “He earned £5 a week and sent £3 home,” said Antony.
Andrew settled in Leighton Road and then met his wife-to-be Christina, whose Cypriot family ran a grocery in Camden Park Road. They married in 1967. The barber shop has its own philosophy.
“You would come in as a customer and leave as a friend,” said Antony. “That is what my dad based his business on. He wanted coming into work to be a social event. People come in for a coffee and chat as well as a trim.”
Based at one end of Market Road, the barber shop would often be the first port of call for prisoners released from Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road.
Antony said his father became known for his kindness, adding: “Prisoners would come in for a haircut and a shave. Dad would do it for free and then slip £20 in their pocket.” Andrew died in 2013, but his son has kept the business running on the same lines. “For me, this isn’t work, it is about meeting friends, old and new,” he said.
Regulars include Fred Quick, who has been coming to Antony’s since he was a child. “I first came here when I was nine years old,” he said. “It was my local barbers. His dad perfected his trade on my head.”
He recalls Antony as a youngster: “Andrew would say to us: listen to my son play this funny Greek guitar called a bouzouki. It was diabolical.”
Antony Michael with regular customer David Bartell
The family celebrated the landmark anniversary by serving up doughnuts and drink for all who came in – and his mother Christina marked the day in a special, poignant way.
Antony explained: “They opened on May 1, 1969, and my dad had used all his savings to do the shop up. On his first day, my mum gave him £4 to put in the till. This morning, I saw my mum and she did the same.”