When Gabe Gonzales opened Bellarmine Barber Shop in 1953, he wasn’t thinking about starting a business that would last seven decades. He just wanted to stop working 16-hour days for another barber shop so he could spend more time with his young and growing family.
“My wife decided it. She said, ‘you’re not going to any of the kids’ games or taking us out on Sundays or weekends’,” Gonzales, now 96, told me as we sat in the shop this week.
The decision paid off in ways Gonzales couldn’t have foreseen. He spent more time with his wife, Lupe, and their four children, and eventually took them on vacations to Europe and South America. And he built a business with deep roots in Santa Clara County, cutting hair for mayors, judges, CEOs and athletes.
As it marks 70 years in business, Bellarmine Barber Shop is the oldest such business in San Jose. Esther Faria, Gonzales’ daughter, took over from her dad in 2005 — none of his three sons went into the business, and Faria went to barber school behind her dad’s back after working as a grocery store clerk.
She now shares the shop with her niece, Stacey Gonzales. While she has no plans to retire soon, Faria’s thankful that the shop will remain in family hands for a third generation and owned by Latina women, she points out.
If future generations of the family prove to be as shrewd at business as Gabriel Gonzales, it could last for several decades more. When he opened the shop on Emory Street — a 150 square-foot space with room for just two barber chairs — Gonzales asked the Jesuit boys school across the street if he could use the name. How’s that for built-in marketing? He also channeled his hair-cutting profits into real estate, buying homes and fixing them up to sell. Like any …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment