When a long-standing business has been in one place for decades, it’s easy to think that it will always be there.
But this Saturday, when the last client leaves Crown Hair Design at Rose Hill Mall in Thornwood, it will be the last call for a salon run by the same man for 53 years.
Its 85-year-old owner John Torzilli, who opened the store with his two brothers in 1968 and has operated the business in the same storefront through countless styling changes, recessions and most recently a pandemic, has suffered stroke in December and was forced to retire, said Eva Kischak, one of her three longtime hairdressers.
For the past five months, Kischak, along with 21-year veteran April Reda and Anna Marcin, who have worked at Torzilli since 1976, run the store. In early April, they were contacted by his family confirming that Torzilli would not be returning and that they would have to shut down.
“It’s just amazing. He was always there before us every morning and he was there after us every day, five days a week, ”Kischak said.
Torzilli’s two brothers, Rio and Angelo, eventually ran their own stores elsewhere in Westchester, but Torzilli persevered. At first, the salon only cut and styled women’s hair, while Continental Hair Salon, which is literally next to Crown, cut men’s hair.
But over the years people started bringing their kids to the salon, and Torzilli, a top barber and barber, cut anyone’s hair.
Marcin has worked at Crown through so many of her personal milestones, from when she was dating her husband, to her engagement, then her marriage and starting a family, that it’s almost as if she is also doing. part of the Torzilli family.
Long-time client and Thornwood resident Carol Schliman said Torzilli was an exceptional haircut. Her father was also a barber and she said she could tell when someone was talented behind the chair. He and his stylists were so accomplished that there was never a need to go anywhere else once she moved to town in 1970.
“He made a great haircut,” said Schliman. “If your hair didn’t curl, it would rest so perfectly. You wouldn’t want to go anywhere else for a haircut so I’ve never been anywhere else.
Two longtime merchants at Rose Hill Mall said they missed Torzilli for the past five months. Michael DiNardo, owner of Silvio’s Ristorante a few doors down, said he would see him every morning. He called Torzilli always respectful and a class act.
“The girls have been with him for a long time, that says a lot about someone,” DiNardo said. “Today, it doesn’t take much for someone to leave and fly somewhere else. We will miss him.”
Bobby Artuso, the owner of Artuso Bakery, said the loss of Crown Hair Design and Torzilli will be felt.
“When you lose a tenant, it’s a friendship and everyone is on the same page,” he said. “Everyone wants the same for everyone and everyone helps each other in the mall.
Reda said everyone in the store knew each other, not just her two colleagues and Torzilli, but the customers who have stayed with them, in some cases for decades. Plus with almost everyone local it was a quick and easy commute.
“It’s very practical and, like Eva said, a family,” Reda explained. “We’re all very close and we’re going to go next door together, the three of us.”
Maybe it’s the silver lining for Kischak, Reda and Marcin. As bittersweet as Crown’s shutdown is when they close the doors early Saturday night, they’ll be working at Continental starting next week and their clients will still see familiar faces, relationships cultivated over decades in many cases. .
“That’s not the way anyone wanted to see him come out, but you know what, he ran well,” Kischak said.