Jarrod Manfro, of Ridgefield, used to long for the time when barbershops were more than just places to get a haircut: they provided men with a place to relax.
Those longing days are long gone as Manfro and Richard Ashaikan of Somers, N.Y., both former Wall Street bankers, recently opened a Kennedy's All-American Barber Club in Stamford -- almost a year after opening the area's first outlet in Ridgefield. The franchise, which was founded in 2008 and has six locations in Florida and a shop in Maryland, offers a "traditional, old-fashioned" barbershop with billiard tables and lounges, Manfro said.
"It's almost like a mini-country club in a barbershop," he said.
The Ridgefield and Stamford stores, which are 2,400 square feet and 1,300 square feet respectively and boast Victorian-themed bars, also have wireless Internet access, coffee, large TVs, computers and fax machines, Manfro said.
In addition to the Ridgefield club at 105 Danbury Road, which has about 300 members, and the Stamford salon at 1075 High Ridge Road, the plan for this spring is to open a 3,400-square-foot Kennedy at 275 Post Road E., Westport, and a 2,900-square-foot place at 1089 Post Road, Darien, Manfro said. A 1,300-square-foot shop for Greenwich's Post Road is also in the works, he said.
"We hope to focus on Fairfield County and then put additional locations in Westchester and Nassau counties," said Manfro, who operates under the name Main Street Advisors and expects Stamford's corporate environment to work well for the newest club. "There are a lot of professional men who network with each other."
A Kennedy All-American Barber Club franchise, which offers a hair cut with a straight-razor shave for $65, can be bought for between $200,000 to $275,000, Manfro said.
The men's grooming category continues to expand with different types of salons, but specialty shops may not do well in all areas of the country, said Brad Masterson, communications manager of the Professional Beauty Association in Las Vegas.
"The market, combined with area demographics that contain men that find specialty barbershops of value, will determine their success and wider acceptance for the most part," he said.