Modern cuts paying homage to the timeless, neighborhood shop your grandfather loved.
Joey Romero was an unemployed hair stylist and at a crossroads when the current owner of the then-named “Meadowlark Barbers” in Lakewood offered him her shop. She’d been running the shop for 26 years and was looking to sell to another barber.
“The truth is, at first, I just wanted to buy that shop for the equipment and try and open my own shop somewhere else,” explains Romero. “But, then one night I pulled into the parking lot, clicked my car lights on so I could light up the space and I took a good look inside. And I realized this place could work.”
A lot of the appeal to staying in the current space was the neighborhood. The shop had a loyal community that had been coming in for cuts for years. Romero himself had grown up in the neighborhood, and his parents lived only four blocks away.
“I thought about folks like my pops,” he laughs.
After buying the space, he blew out the wall in the building next door, took it from four to 13 chairs, and put in a tattoo parlor for five artists in the back.
“I wanted a place my grandfather and father would be proud to call their shop, but where my mom would feel comfortable.”
A licensed hair stylist and barber, Romero’s career has slowly shifted to men’s hair.
“I do see barbering as my craft,” he says. “My favorite thing about cutting hair is to have someone sit in my chair for 30 minutes and have a quality conversation. They can forget about everything. And at the end, I hold that mirror up, and they feel better. It’s a transformation.”
Romero recently opened a second shop on 21st and Curtis, four blocks from Coors Field.
“This shop has been five years in the making, and I feel like we found the right opportunity and coming into this neighborhood felt right.”
Built on community and everyday people, Romero’s shops see faces from all walks of life, including local icons like athletes from the Rockies and the Denver Broncos. But Romero downplays these celebrity appearances.
“WHETHER YOU’RE A TRASH MAN OR A TYCOON, WHEN YOU SIT IN MY CHAIR, YOU’RE JUST ANOTHER PERSON. PAT BOWLEN III HAS COME THROUGH, AND CHARLIE BLACKMON, BUT SO HAS MR. ANDERSON FOR 40 YEARS,” EXPLAINS ROMERO, REFERENCING A MEADOWLARK NEIGHBORHOOD OLD-TIMER. “IT’S NEVER BEEN ABOUT CELEBRITIES; I JUST TAKE CARE OF PEOPLE.”
And while Romero thinks franchises and chains serve their purpose, he says nothing compares to the consistency of a locally owned, neighborhood barbershop with a diverse clientele.
“It’s that timeless place where everything else around it can change, but it stays the same.”