Joe Randazzo of Phil’s Barber Shop looks to bring men into the modern age of grooming at his old-school shop.
Text by Harrison Patino
Image by Jonas Maon
Walking inside Phil’s Barber Shop, a cozy, 300-square-foot space tucked away in J Salon in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kaka‘ako, feels like stepping back in time. A record player fills the room with the crackling croons of Frank Sinatra, and the scents of talcum powder and aftershave linger in the air. The walls are adorned with old pomade advertisements, haircut charts from the 1950s, and other vintage haircutting memorabilia—including a framed pair of scissors and a straight razor that belonged to Phil Marsala, the shop’s namesake and owner Joe Randazzo’s Sicilian grandfather.
“Those scissors were sitting in my mom’s drawer since I was a child,” Randazzo says. “I remember seeing them and thinking, ‘What is this rusty old piece of junk?’”
When Randazzo was a child in Chicago, he certainly didn’t think that working with hair would be his calling. “My mom would take me to the barber when I was a kid,” Randazzo recalls. “I used to cry because he used a razor, and it hurt.” This aversion was assuaged when he started to accompany his sister on her hair appointments at a Vidal Sassoon salon in Chicago. “I was inspired,” he says. “I knew that was where I belonged.”
Randazzo started styling hair in 1981, where he was an assistant, stylist, and eventually, an art director for Vidal Sassoon in Chicago. Since then, he’s had a storied career that has seen him cutting hair in Tokyo, Hamburg, Berlin, and New York. He moved to Honolulu in 1999 for, among other things, the warmer weather.
But it was only recently that Randazzo was able to combine his passion for haircutting with his reverence for old-school barbers like his grandfather, with the opening of Phil’s Barber Shop. “His barbershop was where him and all the Italian guys would hang out in the neighborhood,” Randazzo says. “We hope [Phil’s] becomes more of the gathering place.”
Phil’s Barber Shop handsomely contrasts the minimalistic design and sleek feel that characterizes J Salon. Offering shaves, cuts, and trims in the vein of the classic barbershop model, Randazzo caters to Honolulu’s style-conscious men looking for a classic, refined look. “We’ve created an environment,” he says. “It’s a place where guys can come and feel comfortable.” And look dapper, of course.
Phil’s Barber Shop is located within J Salon at 210 Ward Ave. #101 in Honolulu. For more information, visit philsbarber.com.