In 2009, Jeff Laub was working as a legal assistant at a top law firm from 9am to 5pm and then in cosmetology school from 5pm to 9pm. And he hated it. He quickly realized he didn’t want to practice law or cut hair. But he loved the communal nature of salons and barbershops, and wanted to put his own creative spin on it. Far from a traditional candy striped hair cuttery, Laub’s Blind Barber is a dual-purpose barbershop and cocktail lounge, a haven for the hipster chic looking for a razor sharp haircut and a good stiff drink.
What’s the story behind the name Blind Barber?
When doing research on the speakeasies of the 1920s, I came across the term “Blind Pig” as another name for the hidden bars of the Prohibition Era. It seemed only natural for us to call the brand “Blind Barber.”
What was the inspiration behind a dual purpose barbershop and bar?
Our “shops” are supposed to be neighborhood hangouts, a place where you feel comfortable shedding your 9-5 face, and where you allow yourself to be you for a little bit. Nothing helps someone do that more than a haircut or a beer right? Seriously though, these two businesses, barber shops and bars, are two of a handful of businesses that still have a personal touch to them, where the employees really get to interact with the customers and get to know them on a level beyond a transaction.
And of course, walking through the barber shop to get the bar is one of the coolest entrances to a bar you’ll ever see so we had to have both.
How do Blind Barber locations differ between NYC boroughs and cities?
The biggest difference between all the locations is the design. We wanted to make sure each location had a unique look to it so there was a reason to check them all out. Beyond that, the energy, care and passion are all the same between the cities and locations.
Who’s behind the drinks menu?
It’s a group effort. Twice a year, our bartenders get together with our general manager and throw every idea they have at the wall until a handful stick. Collaboration is everything in our business. It’s the best way to get to the best results.
What are two MVP cocktails?
If I had to name a few of the fan favorites I would have to go with the Batman and Strawberry Fields. Those held their spot on the menu since Day 1.
How does the food menu relate to the barbershop aspect?
I don’t think the food relates at all. In truth, when we were opening a second location, in Culver City, we found out we needed to add a kitchen to the space in order to get our liquor license. So we all got together at the apartment and asked ourselves, what we’d want to eat while drinking beer. Grilled cheese was the winner.
Once that decision was made, we enlisted the help of our chef, Ted Hirsh, to come in and make the standard grilled cheese and late night bites a bit more fun. Ted added other small bites like the Pastrami Reuben Taco and a lemonade vinaigrette kale salad.
With coffee shops and cocktail bars popping up in retail spaces, do you think dual purpose retail shops like Blind Barber will become the norm?
I think it’s becoming more commonplace, but in a good way. Business owners don’t always have a singular passion, so I don’t see anything wrong with tweaking the “norm” and adding other elements that you are interested in and passionate about to the mix. I hope I never have to pick just ONE thing to do for work.