On a rainy Wednesday morning at the end of July, Tina’s beauty salon served as a haven for clients in need of drying and styling.
Business owner Tina Panagiotopoulos, barber Manny Ninos and coworker Liz Reed greeted familiar faces in and out of the salon at 5620 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
“It’s like a family,” said Panagiotopoulos. “I still have people, we were all young together. (They’re) still the same people for about 30 years when I started here.
A customer needed help opening the front door to make room for her walker. She then walked past the waiting room and sank into a comfortable lounge seat.
Familiarity is what has helped Tina’s beauty salon move to Longboat Key since 1987.
“This place has been a beauty salon for 44 years,” said Panagiotopoulos. “It was already a beauty salon when I arrived here.”
However, boaters who get their hair cut at Tina’s beauty salon will have to make new plans. The beloved salon is definitely closing its doors on August 27.
Starting September 3, Panagiotopoulos, 70, and Reed plan to provide their services to Design 2000 at 6840 Gulf of Mexico Drive in Whitney Beach Plaza.
“I know it will work. They are nice people where (I go), but it won’t be the same, ”said Panagiotopoulos. “It won’t be that place.”
Ninos, 82, says he is retiring.
“I will miss people,” Ninos said. “I know I’m going to be… I’m not going to say depressed because that doesn’t mean I’m not happy at home.”
Longtime Ninos client Bob Gault said he was sad to hear the news.
“When he told me the other day, I was like, boom. It was like a punch in the guts,” Gault said. “Boom, he’s going.
When asked why Gault had remained loyal to Ninos for years, he mentioned the friendly conversations and the many times he was given a “good haircut”.
“You just feel like you’re going to a friend’s house to get your hair cut,” Gault said.
From Massachusetts to Longboat Key
Panagiotopoulos and Ninos’ friendship began in 1982 when they met in Massachusetts.
“The husbands decided to move to Florida (and) the wives followed,” said Panagiotopoulos.
Panagiotopoulos and Ninos opened a barber shop and salon next to each other, and Ninos worked in his own business until a brief retirement in 2007. Upon his return, he started working at Tina . The secret to longevity is their kindness.
“I haven’t met anyone here that I don’t like,” Panagiotopoulos said. “And, a few people, you make them happy and you love them. It’s part of the business. There is always someone. You can make them happy and love them.
“From my perspective, I can say a million times, I can say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you people,’” Ninos said. “I hope that (the) first customer, they can follow her wherever she goes. They are good people. “
Panagiotopoulos values its customers too.
“It’s more bitter than sweet, of course,” said Panagiotopoulos. “It’s nice to be here with all these people. You meet all of these people.
Future plans for the property
Landowner Shawn Hamilton purchased the building at 5620 Gulf of Mexico Drive in January 2019 for $ 1.125 million.
Hamilton said he had problems renting the other business unit next to Tina’s beauty salon.
“It’s so tough, this No.1 unit,” Hamilton said. “I had rented it for five years from a rental company, and the (city) did not allow it, allowed it to be used as a rental of golf carts and scooters, etc., so I lost my tenant. “
Hamilton also said the COVID-19 pandemic caused the loss of another, Gulf Waters Massage.
Panagiotopoulos said Hamilton told him on May 1 that he had no plans to renew their agreement, giving him 60 days’ notice to vacate the rent.
“By the way, they’re devastated,” Panagiotopoulos said of his clients.
Hamilton offered a commercial unit at her property at 5610 Gulf of Mexico Drive, but she chose an alternate route.
Hamilton said it accepted Kevin Pass’s offer for a five-year lease for the property located at 5620 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
“They were interested in the whole building, so basically I accepted their offer to rent a new restaurant in this whole building,” Hamilton said. “So they’re determining right now whether they’re going to renovate this building or whether they’re going to replace it with a whole new structure, so it’s still in negotiations right now.”
It’s still too early to say what kind of restaurant concept would go to where Tina’s beauty salons are currently located. The proposed changes would be subject to the approval of the Town of Longboat Key Commission and the Planning and Zoning Council.
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