When customers enter Barbershop 54 in Wading River, they’re immediately greeted by a man in a black button-down shirt decorated with scissors.
Stationed at the center mirror, his name emblazoned across the top and pictures of his children along the sides, the man calls each customer by name, asking about their families as if they’ve been friends for years.
Then again, they have.
The barber, Adam Benali, spent the past six years working at the shop when it was known as The Tailored Male. Now, he’s fulfilled a personal dream by recently purchasing the barbershop, which he and a business partner renamed.
Mr. Benali, 41, of East Patchogue said he jumped at the opportunity when former owner Al Amore mentioned he was putting a few Tailored Male locations on the market. He also pursued an idea he got about a year ago to rename the shop — which had been known as The Tailored Male since 1990 — in honor of former customer Thomas Cutinella, who was a junior at Shoreham-Wading River High School when he died in October 2014.
“I’d been cutting Tommy’s [hair] for the past six years,” Mr. Benali said. “After he died, I said, ‘If one day I open up a barbershop, I will name it Barbershop 54.’ So three months ago, when I found out that I was going to buy the place, the first person I talked to was Frank [Cutinella, Thomas’ father].”
After taking a few days to talk it over with his wife, Mr. Cutinella gave Mr. Benali the OK to use the name, Mr. Benali said.
Mr. Benali has created a new store logo to reflect the change. He took the signature barber’s pole from The Tailored Male’s logo and placed one on each end of a blue football featuring the number 54, Thomas’ jersey number.
Mr. Benali, who co-owns the shop with another barber, Rachid Ben Hamouda, 40, said he hopes to offer discounts to Shoreham-Wading River High School students.
He has begun to change the shop’s interior by updating the bathroom, repainting the walls and adding a television to the waiting area. He also plans to hang pictures of Thomas around the store.
“It’s more responsibility,” Mr. Benali said of being a business owner. “But I’m thankful.”
Mr. Ben Hamouda echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said of co-owning the shop he’s worked at for the past decade. “It’s a dream come true, actually. You always want to do better for yourself and for your family.”
Photo Caption: Adam Benali, who worked at the Tailored Male in Wading River for six years, recently purchased the business and renamed it Barbershop 54 in memory of Thomas Cutinella. (Credit: Nicole Smith)