What if there was a place that combined the fraternity of an old-fashioned barbershop with the comfort of a neighborhood bar? It sounds like one of those far-fetched ideas that you’d dream up as a joke with some friends. But, in fact, that’s the description of an actual place known as the Blind Barber; a kind of men’s clubhouse that began on a crazy whim and has turned into a thriving business run by a trio of innovative partners with enough hutzpah to make it happen against all odds. “The beauty of the Blind Barber is that it’s something different for every person,” says beauty school dropout Jeff Laub, who runs the place along with Josh Boyd and Adam Kirsch. “It’s based on the things we’ve grown to love and are passionate about. Some people get a haircut, some just get a beer, and others only buy the pomade.”
Laub speaks more than eloquently about his labor of love, in part because he’s done a lot of talking in the years since the opening of its first outpost in New York’s East Village. From there, the concept took off, and became both local legend and catnip for publications like GQ, Esquire, and Vanity Fair, who lifted the Blind Barber’s rep as a must-visit establishment. The brand became so sought-after that the only logical step was for Laub and company to expand to new locations, including a thriving spot in Culver City. “For a long time, Culver City had a drab and dreary reputation,” says Laub of coming out west. “Los Angeles is the land of strip malls, so we found a space in between a Best Buy and a Weight Watchers. We did nothing to the exterior of our space, so from the outside, it looks like a generic barbershop. However, once you step in, it’s something else.”
Image by Locale Magazine (www.localemagazine.com).
The “something else” to which Laub refers is a dynamic space, capitalizing, and in some ways even pioneering and advancing, the current trend of men forgoing generic shops and salons in favor of the traditional, classic establishment that was ubiquitous throughout the ’30s and ’40s. Back then “Men didn’t have a place to hangout like women did with salons,” explains Laub of the lure of the Blind Barber, which is named after the speakeasy idea of turning a ‘blind eye’ to what’s going on in the back of an establishment (in this case, a bar behind a barbershop). “Five years ago, guys were dying for a place like this to go, but didn’t want to risk the quality of the haircut. Today, men aren’t scared to say they want to take care of themselves, and do so place they’d want to hang out.”
These days, Laub says the most popular customer request is the trendy “short-on-the-sides, long-on-top cut,” a throwback in itself. Besides the quality and service (the menu boasts a regular haircut, a trim, a shave, and a beard trim), any selection gets you a complimentary drink, which can range from a variety of beers to a plethora of elaborate cocktails (like the Strawberry Fields, which includes Russian Standard Vodka, lemon, honey, strawberries, and a dash of parsley to top it all off). In addition, the Culver City location also offers a full food menu of which Laub says the egg sandwiches are a definite favorite. If this all seems too-hip-to-be-true, that’s precisely the point. “When you think of a strip mall, you think of Supercuts,” says Laub. Now, thanks to he and his cohorts, a gentleman can visit a strip mall for a grooming experience that’s a cut above the rest.