YONKERS, N.Y. – Neighbors know him. Customers swear by him. Even the mayor visits him for haircuts.
But now, after 51 years and trimming hundreds of thousands of heads of hair in Yonkers, Luciano Silvestri, or "Lou the Barber," is hanging up his shears.
Inside his St. Andrews Place barbershop Wednesday, Silvestri was honored by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and City Council President Chuck Lesnick for his years of service to the city, both in business and in the community.
“I’ve made so many memories, some good, some bad,” the 68-year-old barber said. “I’m going to miss it a lot, but it’s just time.”
Silvestri moved to America as a teenager in 1961 from Benevento, Italy. Since setting up shop in south Yonkers shortly thereafter, he has given an estimated 350,000 haircuts. Spano said the barber also has helped Yonkers police in identifying alterations to the facial or head hair of suspects in a lineup.
The mayor, who visited Silvestri for trims as a boy and even took the barber's daughter on a couple of dates in high school, said saying goodbye was bittersweet.
“He was a staple in the community, somebody you could rely on,” Spano said. “It makes it so different knowing he’s not going to be here anymore.”
Many of Silverstri’s loyal customers said they, too, would miss the barber. Tom Muller grew up in Yonkers and started getting his hair cut by Silvestri when he was 16 years old.
Now, nearly three decades later, Muller drives from Mahopac just to get a trim.
“He’s become a friend,” Muller said. "He is just a real nice guy, and he knows everything.”
When Silvestri leaves the shop for the last time on Aug. 4, longtime co-worker Maria Rolon will take over. Silvestri said he plans to head south to Port St. Lucie, Fla., two days later to enjoy retirement and work on his golf game.
“In all my years I have made a lot of friends, a lot of good friends,” he said. “I’m going to miss them.”