NEW YORK — Manhattan’s upscale barbershop scene is about to get a new player.
Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers, which is set to open its inaugural location at 120 East 56 Street here in April, will join more established businesses like John Allan’s and The Art of Shaving, both of which have multiple locations in the city.
Truman’s was founded by John Esposito, 36, Joe Marchesi, 33, and Hans Deutmeyer, 32. While the trio’s salon experience amounts to nothing whatsoever, they do know one thing: They’re averse to the term “barbershop.”
“It’s a luxury men’s grooming experience,” said Esposito who left a job in global marketing for IBM to start the business. Marchesi remains a marketing manager at IBM, and Deutmeyer works in business development at HBO.
The three are banking on their combined experience in corporate America and knowledge of business to create a viable “destination for the young, urban professional male.” Truman’s plans to mix everything from haircuts and hair coloring to shaves and facials — not to mention spa services like manicures, pedicures, massages and waxing.
The Truman’s space, which was formerly occupied by Benihana, features 2,600 square feet on the ground floor and 1,600 square feet on a lower level. It was designed by Larry Bogdanow, who also did Union Square Café. The ground floor, made of stone and wood, will feature an oval-shaped wood bar up front. Plans call for a hostess to greet customers as they enter and check in.
“It’s like walking into a restaurant,” said Esposito. Past the bar, which initially will feature complimentary alcohol, will be a line of styling stations divided by translucent acrylic partitions. “Each is a semi-private booth,” Esposito added, noting there will be a total of 13 styling stations. Flat-screen TVs and periodicals will abound. Third-party brands will be featured, but the retail assortment has yet to be made final.
Given their lack of salon experience, the founding trio hired a hair expert — Rick Haylor — as consulting creative director. Haylor was formerly international creative director for John Frieda, in charge of the stylist’s Worldwide Creative Training Program. Prior to that, he was creative director of Vidal Sassoon, working mainly in the U.K.
Truman’s joins a breed of men’s service-retail concepts that would like to be thought of as anything but barbershops. John Allan’s prefers to be described as a “club” and The Art of Shaving favors the term “barber spa.”
“There are a lot of proprietary owners out there, but it’s still a fragmented and growing market,” said Esposito. Still, he says, “It’s hard for a man to get a haircut in a location where he’s comfortable. Baby Boomers and pre-Baby Boomers have realized in order to be competitive in today’s world, you have to be into how you look.” He noted that Truman’s market research indicated men want “quality services in an atmosphere that makes them comfortable and relaxed.”
At Truman’s, a cut and finish will go for $63 and a wash and finish for $35. A shave will be $53 and hair coloring will cost $75. “Handshake maintenance” — aka manicures — will be $25; a pedicure (foot repair), $35, and massages, $65 and $100. Hair removal starts at $18 and face treatments start at $75. Services are also combined in three packages priced at $78, $83 and $230.
While the three founders declined to speculate about sales projections, industry sources estimate Truman’s could generate $1 million in first-year sales.