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Bolt Barbers Bringing Shears, Shaves and Shines to the Rowan

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009, at 10:28AM
Mohawk Matt Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Mohawk Matt stands in front of the Rowan Lofts, where he plans to open Bolt Barbers in November.

If being passionate about what you are doing is the key to success, Matt Berman's Bolt Barbers is going to be a runaway hit.

Berman, also known as Mohawk Matt, has an entire barbershop tattooed on his back, with four other pieces of barbershop-related art inked across his body. One of them -- an image of a barber chair -- just won first prize in the Best Unusual Tattoo category at the Pomona Body Art Expo.

Tonight the shop hosts an event during the Downtown Art Walk, and plans are underway for a November 12 grand opening.

After working in consumer products and living in Europe for fifteen years, Berman's job brought him back to Los Angeles last summer. He decided it was finally time to take a shot at doing what he loved to do.

The process of getting his barber license gave Berman a chance to see whether his hobby would actually translate into something he would still love when he was doing it every day. The coursework at Real Barber College in Anaheim involved 1500 hours of instruction, during which Berman estimates he cut about 2,000 heads of hair.

When Bolt opens in the ground floor of the Rowan Building this November, Berman's goal is to give guys who come into the shop "awesome technical haircuts at a price where they can afford to do it often."

But doesn't Downtown already have enough places in the neighborhood to get a haircut?

"Downtown needs another salon like it needs a hole in the head," Berman said Tuesday.

The barber shop, though, is different. "Men don't understand the appeal," said Berman, because they haven't grown up with that experience. The shop will offer "shearing, shaving and shining," and an unhurried experience that will include a 22-foot shuffleboard table and a 1956 jukebox spinning 45's.

"It's not how fast you turn customers," Berman said. "It's how often they come back."

Berman's done his homework on the neighborhood. LAPD officers he spoke with said they needed a place to get their shining work done, so holster and belt shines will be among the services offered out of the 1940's walnut show shine stand, which Berman says once stood in Grand Central Terminal.

It seems everything in the shop has a story. Berman can give a history for each of the ten 1950's Koken President barber chairs he's installing. "How can they not [have a story?," Berman asks. "They're 60 years old." One came from Exxon World Headquarters in Houston, and six were found in a barn in Alabama, where they had sat since being repossessed in 1972.

Each had to go auto repair shops to get restored, a process that included getting the chairs' chrome redone.

Five of the chairs will be in place in the Rowan tonight, when Bolt opens for an Art Walk event featuring barber art by Jodi Bonassi. They'll be offering free cuts from 4 - 10pm.

When the shop opens for real on November 12, Berman plans to employ 10 or 11 barbers and two to three shinesmen. Shears and shaves will be $22, with shines at $7. Special appreciation pricing will be offered for law enforcement and firefighters. Plans are to stay open until midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with hours until 7pm other nights.

Bolt Barbers / 460 S. Spring / 310-594-3150 / Art Walk Event: September 10, 4 - 10pm / Opening November 12

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