It starts with a beer and ends with a dapper cut. That’s what Jason Owens’ barber shop is all about. Jason is a barber who hails from Niagara Falls, even though he’s fallen for Buffalo. “When I was young, my parents told me that there was not much going on in Buffalo,” Jason told me, after handing me a beer and sitting me down in his barber chair. “We would occasionally come to Buffalo for a hockey game, or to go to dinner at Chef’s, but that was about it. Buffalo was a city that I knew nothing about. Now I commute from Niagara Falls to come work in Buffalo.”
Four years ago, Jason decided to attend the Buffalo School of Barbering and Cosmetology. After graduating, he decided that he would walk around the city. Before long, he stumbled upon a barber shop that he felt fit his bill. During his three and a half year stint at the shop, he became quite familiar with Buffalo. Now he loves it, as do his parents. As he cut my hair we talked about all of the restaurant hot spots, including Left Bank, Dapper Goose, Trattoria Aroma (across the street), and Giacobbi’s Cucina Citta – that’s his favorite Italian date spot in Buffalo.
As I looked around the room, I took in the black and white vibe that Jason had laid out. His sister Emily painted a brilliant black and white mural, not far from where a black and white barber pole hung from the wall. How cool is that? A black and white barber pole? The only thing that Jason takes more serious than his hair cutting, and the black and white motif, is rock ‘n roll. If you don’t like Led Zeppelin, then chances are you are not going to like Dapper J’s. Jason is very proud of some of the album covers that he has accumulated. Then there’s the photo of Jimmy Page downing a bottle of whiskey in his dressing room… which kinda looks like he might be sitting in a barber chair. You see where I am going here – if you can’t handle a little swearing, some rock ‘n roll music, and a free beer, then there’s always Supercuts.
I like Jason – he’s a good guy. But what I mostly like about Dapper J’s is that he took over one of the greatest, and most underutilized storefronts in all of Buffalo. For years, this gorgeous storefront has either sat empty, or was in use as an office. Now, it has suddenly come to life thanks to Jason and his two barber cohorts – Joey Simmen and Tyler Gibson. As a team, the three banter like nobody’s business, though it’s all in good fun.
Can you believe that just a few years ago barber shops had pretty much gone the way of the dodo? Now they have come back with a vengeance, bringing with the them a young talent pool that makes getting a haircut fun. “It’s interesting,” said Jason. “Guys take their hair more seriously than women these days – there are a lot of different cuts out there, and then there are the beards…” It’s not like the old barbering days, when you sat there listening to your elders talk about life, ogling a Playboy magazine sitting on a shelf just out of arm’s reach. Not at all. These days, barbers like Jason want to shoot the shit. They want to talk about beer, and restaurants, and music – it’s a refreshing change.
If you want to get a close shave, or a style, or a beard trim, then all you have to do is go to the Dapper J’s’ website to schedule an appointment. They don’t have a phone number, and even if you stop in, they will tell you to book an appointment online. Like I said, this is not your father’s barbershop – these guys are serious about what they do, and they have a lot of fun doing it.
Dapper J’s | 312 Bryant Street | Buffalo N.Y. 14222 | Online appointment booking | Cash only | See rates | Three chairs | Fourth chair is free for a barber that likes beer, Buffalo, rock ‘n roll, et al.