Volume 76, Number 23 | October 25 - 31, 2006

The Lower East Side
Traditions and transitions

Villager photo by Clayton Patterson

Head barber Mr. Bee, left, with general manager Todd Nisbet and Mariely Nieves, the floor lady, outside the new Frank’s Chop Shop, at 19 Essex St.

Chop Shop takes a page from old-time barbershops

By Lori Haught

Frank’s Chop Shop is planning on being your new “old-time” barbershop, and so far it’s succeeding.

The Lower East Side’s newest barbershop, at 19 Essex St., will officially open for business on Nov. 7. Offering quality haircuts and custom merchandise, Frank’s Chop Shop is also the New York headquarters for the Frank Book.

The Frank Book is a small quarterly publication, about 4 inches by 5 inches and about 100 pages, focusing on different parts of the country or world, with inside looks at the music scene or sports and much more.

The Chop Shop is also the only distribution location for the Frank Book, which is owned exclusively by Frank 151, the parent company, although they are distributed in boutiques, music stores and on the streets all over the country.

Mr. Bee, the head barber, was brought on by Frank 151 to run the barbershop end of the business.

Bee used to work at Astor Place Hairstylists until the tempting offer to help revive history with Frank.

“We consider this the final frontier of Old New York,” Bee said.

Bee said that the Essex St. barbershop is trying to bring back the traditional networking and community aspects of the barbershop in society.

With barber chairs from the 1930s and hot towels and straight razor shaves as well as styling services, the Chop Shop has appeal for every member of the community.

Todd Nisbet, general manager for the Chop Shop, is taking care of the Frank 151 side of the business, including the custom New Era fitted hats for the Frank Distro League.

The F.D.L. is a series stemming from the Frank 151 headquarters locations. Each city has a team of employees and each team has a name, much like in the N.B.A. or N.F.L. New York is the Kings.

The main goal of the Chop Shop is just to be a place that everyone can enjoy and feel at home. The Frank Book is a community-oriented publication and Frank’s Chop Shop hopes to follow suit.

“We’re never going to get a front,” Bee said. “We’re cool with everybody.”

At the grand opening celebration there will be a photo exhibit featuring old barbershops, and a reception will be held next door at King Size bar, at 21 Essex St. The Chop Shop encourages neighbors to check out the photographs, as well as the shop.

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