<b>Montecito BarberShop Quartet:</b> (From left) Steve Hirata, TimSanchez, Juan Mendez, and original cofounder Jess Martinez (seated).
Paul Wellman

Barbering is in Tim Sanchez’s blood. His grandfather Bob Sanchez cofounded Montecito Barbers with Jess Martinez in 1966 at its present location near the Coast Village Road roundabout. Tim’s father, Matt Sanchez, a former Eastside gang leader who turned his life around to help the wayward get a second chance, worked at the shop for nearly 25 years.

Early on, young Tim worked alongside them both — three generations of Sanchez men, cutting and shaving generations of steady customers — before taking the reins when his father passed away in 2012. While Bob is retired from the trade, Tim still gets primary-source nostalgia from Martinez, now 84, who comes in to cut hair on Wednesdays.

Working from the chair by the window, Tim and his deft clipper-over-comb technique and artfully efficient fades are admired by fellow barbers and appreciated by his clientele. Combine this refined skillset with straightforward pricing, long hours, sports on flat-screen TVs, and just enough chatter to keep the shop colorful with opinion and laughter, and there’s little wonder as to why it takes four chairs to handle a revolving door of walk-ins and appointments.

A few months back and three seats over from Tim’s chair, Steve Hirata, 66, wrapped my five-o’clock shadow with a hot towel. As I closed my eyes and slipped into a reclined angle of lathered repose, I asked casually about his barbering background. He slid a straight razor down my jawline and told me about learning to cut and shave while in state prison, after failing on the outside as an incompetent drug slinger.

Hirata’s been a friend of the Sanchez family for decades, he said. “And when I finally started getting sober, Matt invited me to work with him on Hoods in the Woods,” where young men from rival neighborhoods go camping together. The experience was a second chance for them all. These days, said Hirata, he’s again grateful for another boon from the Sanchez clan. “I just get to do what I really enjoy,” he said.

1029 Coast Village Rd.; (805) 969-1314; montecitobarbers.com


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