Editor’s Note: No city is more important to America’s economy than New York, and none has been hit harder by the coronavirus. “NYC Reopens” examines life in the capital of capitalism as the city takes its first halting steps toward a new normal.
Wall Street deals are on hold. Its skyscrapers are mostly hushed. But, in a subtle sign of New York City’s reopening, Franco Anzalone is finally cutting hair again.
On Monday, the 34-year-old barber rose at 5 a.m., walked into the Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan and opened the door to his Salvatore salon for the first time in three months.
Then, the bankers came.
One top executive got his eyebrows trimmed. A young financier complained about bossy politicians. A managing director from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it felt like the first day of school.
Neighborhood barbershops and salons across the U.S. are reopening, but none is quite like Anzalone’s. He works in the shadow of Goldman, whose headquarters towers over his Battery Park City shop. As Wall Street financiers trickle into offices again, they’re helping to breathe life back into an ecosystem of bakers, barrooms, bodegas and barbers.
Anzalone has been giving bankers haircuts for years, as did his father, Salvatore, for decades before him. The salon has a private room for pedicures, and photos over the cash register of hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones and former Treasury Secretary and Goldman boss Hank Paulson. Anzalone charges about $38 for a cut, a price that shrewd traders would favor to the $1,000 trims Julien Farel gives at his salon inside the Loews Regency hotel uptown.
Read more: The $1,000 Haircut Is Alive and Well in Midtown Manhattan
Tina Peiss, a Romanian-born barber, walked in and greeted Anzalone in the Italian that she learned decades ago in Bucharest. Returning to her chair here suited her better than sitting at home in Queens.
“I like to work, I don’t want to be home,” she said. “When you work, you move.”
Vin DeSantis walked in wearing a camouflage-patterned mask. He’s an executive at a nearby security company whose dogs sniff for bombs inside investment firms and sports events. While Anzalone cut his hair, a big-time banker sat down. He’s so high on Wall Street’s ladder of power and prestige that he said his very presence here, and the words he spoke while Peiss gave him a trim, were off the record. Anzalone made sure the policy was enforced.
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James Mann, a lawyer, stepped inside after taking an Uber from Brooklyn.
“I think there’s going to be trouble in the long run,” he said, keeping his face covered while Peiss trimmed his hair. “If we all have to wear masks for a really long time, I would consider leaving New York. I’m not from here, and I can move somewhere else. I can practice from anywhere, right?”
His mood lifted once Peiss finished.
“Now I feel ready to face the world again,” he said. “It makes a difference.”
At least two more financiers came in. Even though bankers have barely begun to get back into their offices, the stock market has been booming, thanks in part to trillions of dollars of stimulus and support from the Federal Reserve. The government’s Paycheck Protection Program was supposed to help small businesses. Anzalone said he tried and failed to get a PPP loan.
“We have to move forward,” he said. “Everything will work out in time. It has to — it should.”
The business has survived bear markets, a terrorist attack and now a pandemic. Anzalone remembers how his father used to cut hair for Goldman bankers from a shop that shared another downtown building with the firm. His dad died at home two years ago this July. Anzalone gave him his final shave.
— With assistance by Sridhar Natarajan
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