Bethel Barber Shop moves but retains classic services
March 6, 2014 12:00 AM
Lee Gaydos, owner of the Bethel Barber Shop, poses inside the shop's new location on Kings School Road in Bethel Park.
By Marsha Morgenstern
The Bethel Barber Shop has a long history in Bethel Park and now it has a new home on Library Road.
Since opening in 1949, the shop has changed owners and locations, but one thing has remained the same: It's a classic barbershop.
With a signature striped barber pole outside, the shop provides shaving services and haircuts — including military, business and kids’ cuts — offering a neck shave and hot towel with every adult cut.
George Pokrajac opened the original Bethel Barber Shop on South Park Road, where it stood for seven years before relocating next to the Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company on Brightwood Road. In the 1990s, Mr. Pokrajac retired and sold the barbershop to Rich Morganti, who owned it 13 years until his death. Lee Gaydos, 38, of Bethel Park, purchased the shop five years ago. He has been barbering for 17 years.
“My uncle has a barbershop and I worked for him. … I wanted my own spot, and this just happened to come up at the right time,” Mr. Gaydos said.
Business has picked up since he took over, and he decided he needed a larger location.
"It seems like when people get their hair cut there, they keep coming back,” said Tom Gillece, 54, of Peters, who has been coming to the shop for five years. Barbers are on a first-name basis with their customers, he said. “I’ve been to a lot of barbershops and nobody is up to that standard. … Immediately the barbers are your friends. They know how to talk and deal with customers.”
In January, the Bethel Park Fire Department purchased the barbershop property next door as part of the expansion of a new fire station that will be built this year. In turn, Mr. Gaydos moved the shop to Library Road (Route 88) and Kings School Road. “I had a hole-in-the-wall barbershop … but I wanted something fresh, new, vibrant,” he said.
The barbershop has grown from three chairs and two parking spots to a five-chair shop with ample parking. Autographed sports images and flat-screen televisions adorn the walls. “I kept the classic feel to the barbershop, but I’m young, so I made it more of a new classic style,” Mr. Gaydos said. “The wood back bar and the black leather chairs give you that older feel, yet it is brand new.”
Jim Vehar, 72, of Bethel Park, a retired life member of the Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company, has been getting his hair cut at the Bethel Barber Shop since 1955. Mr. Vehar’s grandparents built the building on Brightwood Road, where the barbershop had been located. “I wore what they called the flattop butch crew cut all the way through when I graduated high school in 1959. That was a pretty popular style at the time,” he said.
Mr. Vehar remembers when he paid 75 cents for a haircut. Different trends came and went since he started going there, but the barbershop remained traditional. “I don’t think they ever did Mohawks,” Mr. Vehar said with a laugh. “… But there were fancier styles during the rock 'n' roll era.”
Mr. Gaydos said the barbershop is a “guy’s place.” The clientele is mostly male. “… We do get a few real young girls that we cut their bangs or maybe the back of their hair, but we don’t do women’s hair,” he said.
One of the barbers in the shop is a woman. “Women have their own little touch and know what guys look good in. I think it is a great addition to his barbershop,” Mr. Gillece said.
Michael Brodzinski, 32, of Peters, has had his hair cut by Mr. Gaydos since he was about 18. Mr. Brodzinski’s 2-year-old and 4-year-old sons have had their first haircuts by Mr. Gaydos and continue to get their hair cut by him. “He is a great barber … the atmosphere he provides in the shop, it is very comforting and relaxing … you feel like you are part of a family,” Mr. Brodzinski said.
Although nearly 400 clients get their hair cut at the barbershop each week, Mr. Brodzinski said he rarely has a long wait. He also believes that the prices are competitive. “… Even if it was a little bit higher than anybody else, I’d pay a little bit more to go there than to go to some sort of cookie-cutter place,” Mr. Brodzinski said.
Mr. Gaydos said his clientele speaks for itself: “I cut professional athletes, I cut judges of Allegheny County, I cut millionaires and I cut people with not a lot of money. I cover it all pretty much.”
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