Fratantonio's Barber Shop celebrates more than 50 years in the Heights
On March 20, 1962, George Fratantonio moved his barber shop from Taylor Road, where it had been located for 22 years, to the Fairmount Circle Medical Building on John Carroll Boulevard, almost directly across from John Carroll University. Now, more than 52 years later, the barber shop is still in the same location, and it is still owned by the Fratantonio family.
Over the years, Fratantonio’s Barber Shop has become an institution in the Heights, and it has had many famous customers, including Art Modell, back when he owned the Browns; former U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum; and former Ohio Governor and U.S. Senator George Voinovich.
The shop’s current owner is “Sonny” Fratantonio, George Fratantonio’s son, and the manager is Mark Vanek, 34, who has worked at the shop for 13 years. The shop also employs three other barbers: Joe Dauria, Maria Petralia and Jo Ann Medaglia.
Dauria, who is 69, has worked at Fratantonio’s for 50 years. “It was my first job,” he said. “I got out of barber school and came here. I was only supposed to be here for four months, then two of the other barbers got into a fight, and George fired them and hired me. I still enjoy it, and I hope I can be here another 10 years.”
Petralia has worked at the shop for 20 years, and Medaglia has worked there for 14 years. All of the barbers agree that one of the things that makes Fratantonio’s special is the family atmosphere. “It’s really a family barber shop,” Dauria said. “Some of our customers are the fourth generation of their families who have been coming here. We don’t advertise, and most of our business comes from referrals. People who come here bring their family and friends.”
Vanek agreed. “I love the customers who come here,” he said. “A lot of families come here, and people bring their kids. It’s a great place, and a nice place where you can come in and hang out.”
Despite its location near the university, the shop only gets a few students as customers. “A lot of the students cut their own hair,” Dauria said, joking. “Then they use their haircut money to buy beer!”
The shop’s interior has not changed since it opened. “The chairs are all the original chairs from 1962,” Dauria said. “And everything else is the same, except that we have painted the walls.”
The shop is open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, and it opens at 6 a.m., which is extremely early for a barber shop. “We usually get from six to eight people early in the morning, before 8 a.m.,” Vanek said. “And then it gets busier as the day goes on.” The shop doesn’t require appointments, and most of the customers are walk-ins.
Fratantonio’s Barber Shop
20620 John Carroll Boulevard
Tuesday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday
James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.