Three generations celebrate Bellarmine Barber Shop’s 70th anniversary

Retired barber Gabe Gonzales, 96, left, visits Bellarmine Barber Shop,...

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.

Retired barber Gabe Gonzales, 96, left, visits Bellarmine Barber Shop, Thursday, March 16, 2023, now run by his daughter Esther Faria, center, and granddaughter, Stacey Gonzales. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Retired barber Gabe Gonzales, 96, sits with his granddaughter, Stacey Gonzales, as his daughter Esther Faria gives a hair cut to Sal Liccardo, Thursday, March 16, 2023, at Bellarmine Barber Shop. Started by Gabe 70 years ago, the family business is now safely in the hands of the second and third generations. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Retired barber Gabe Gonzales, 96, surprises Sean O’Kane with a lollipop on Thursday, March 16, 2023, much as he used to do decades ago when he owned Bellarmine Barber Shop. Gonzales’ daughter Esther Faria now runs the shop. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Retired barber Gabe Gonzales, 96, visits Bellarmine Barber Shop on Thursday, March 16, 2023, where the San Jose, Calif. business he opened 70 years ago is now safely in the hands of his daughter Esther Faria, left, and granddaughter, Stacey Gonzales, Esther’s niece. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

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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


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