A few weeks ago, I visited Licatese & Son’s Barber Shop in Springettsbury Township.
The shop celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
It is owned by Steve Licatese, 54, and his story is an American dream of sorts.
At 11 years old, living in Sicily, he dropped out of school. By 12, he was learning to cut hair.
At age 16, he came to America with his parents and hated the country.
He didn’t speak the language. He wanted to go home.
Eventually, he got a job at Mount Rose Barberama.
In 2002, he branched out and opened his own store where his sons, Charlie and Gaetano, and his wife Maria also work.
The shop started with two outside-the-family stylists.
The business is now thriving, with nine stylists renting space. Licatese expanded his shop six years ago.
And he shows no signs of slowing down.
“The American dream is what you do in the working place,” he said. “That is what I believe.”
He attributes his success to a loyal following built up over the years.
Some return for the sharp haircuts. Others, he said, enjoy his accent — which often leads him to say funny things.
Once, called out to a customer named Jake. It came out sounding like “Jerk.”
The chain link fence installed around his property? The “ching-a-ling” fence, of course.
One morning, a woman sat down in Licatese’s chair.
He made a remark about the “foggy” weather. It came out sounding like another F-word instead.
But Licatese doesn’t let a few speech slip-ups ruin his day.
His ability to laugh at himself is something to be admired.
“I learn so much,” he said. “You think you know everything, but you don’t.”
But that’s not the only endearing thing about this bilingual barber.
At the end of each week, he has a special customer — his 89-year-old mother.
“She’s my mom,” he said. “I love her very much … She looks beautiful as she is.”
Family and tradition is everything to Licatese.
Each year, three generations of the Licatese family get together to stomp grapes together.
Now that’s just cool.
“This is more than an American dream,” he said. “I get up every morning and ask what I can do for America today to make it stronger and be the best in the world.”
For a video of Licatese discussing his experience in America, click here.