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New barber shop opening as merchants in Hampden play musical chairs

Old Bank Barbers pays homage to hair cutteries of yore

By Larry Perl, lperl@tribune.com

1:07 PM EDT, May 6, 2013

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A shave and a haircut of yesteryear cost the proverbial two bits, 25 cents. A shave alone at The Old Bank Barbers, a soon-to-open barber shop on The Avenue in Hampden, will cost $25.

It won't be any old shave, though. Owner Daniel Wells promises an old-fashioned, full-face, straight-edge shave, complete with hot lather, in a leather chair with a headrest that leans back.

"It's an old-school barber shop with the tile floors," said Wells, who hopes to open this month at 1100 W. 36th St., the former site of Sixteen Tons, a men's clothing store.

Though its look will evoke an earlier time, the shop will specialize in an eclectic mix of in modern rock and other kinds of music, said Wells, who plans to house half of his record collection at the shop. He also plans to serve coffee in the shop.

Wells will charge $15 or $17 for haircuts.

The Old Bank Barbers (the name refers to the 1886 building's past life as a bank) is generating buzz among merchants. It has also sparked musical chairs by other businesses near the intersection of 36th and Falls Road.

Sixteen Tons owner Daniel Wylie is moving across the street to 1021 W. 36th St., where Denova, a furniture store used to be.

Wylie's wife, Lesley Jennings, is moving her women's clothing store, doubledutch boutique, from 3616 Falls Road to the same building as Sixteen Tons. She's on the second floor; he's on the first. Both will have bigger digs, Wylie said, adding that they plan to expand their retail offerings.

"Appliances in the basement; bedroom furnishings on the fourth floor," Wylie quipped.

Expanding into the former doubledutch space is Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, where co-owners Benn Ray and Rachel Whang are opening a bottle shop in back of the store.

Near Atomic Books, David Morgan is reopening his long-dormant David's restaurant, now expanded into the old train and hobby store next door. Morgan's ambitions have expanded, too; the restaurant is now David's 1st & 10 Sports Bar, with 35 flat-screen TVs, DirecTV and an upscale bar food menu. One TV is 80 inches, Morgan said.

Chef and kitchen manager John Richardson said he is concocting everything from corn dogs and chicken wings to a pork burger with hoisin sauce; steak frites; a hamburger with blue cheese, fig jam and bacon; homemade buttermilk sausage biscuits; and orange-cinnamon French toast.

"I'm going toward gastro-pub bar food, but on a high level," he said.

Richardson also raves about his fried chicken sandwich with spicy mayonnaise.

"It's hard to find one that's not Chick-fil-A," he said.

General manager David Carleton, formerly a buyer for the 13.5% Wine Bar on The Avenue, said the new sports bar will offer a variety of wines and beers.

"We're bringing a good bar list," he said.

Atomic Books' Ray, president of the Hampden Village Merchants Association and a Messenger columnist, said all the relocations signal a healthy business community.

"There's a whole bunch of shuffling, but it's good. A lot of local businesses are expanding," Ray said, noting that Ma Petite Shoe and Breathe Books, both on The Avenue, are opening cafes.

But perhaps the most anticipated business is the newest, The Old Bank Barbers, where Wells is paying homage to the stereotypical barber shops of yore. He plans to install a traditional red and white barber pole out front.

Wells, who has worked for Sam's Barber Shop in Timonium since graduating from Avara's Academy of Hair Design in Dundalk in 2005, is opening his first barber shop, and said he chose The Avenue because, "The neighborhood lacks a gentleman's barber shop."

But Wells, who lives in Dundalk, also said he spends much of his time in Hampden, which fits his lifestyle as a fan of rock music and vintage clothing, and that he plans to move to Hampden. He also feels more comfortable barbering in Hampden than in Timonium

"I kind of fit in Hampden better," he said.