G. Albert Barber Spa on Elm Street is not your typical hair salon or barber shop. Throw away the images of the super salon chains in the mall with in-and-out appointments. Owner Francisco Alberto Gonzalez, known as Albert, wants to give the men of New Canaan a very specific relaxing experiencing in addition to their grooming needs.
"It's very different. Usually a guy goes into a barber shop or a women's salon. You go to the barbershop and a guy usually asks you what number clipper do you want to use. It's not very personal or inviting. Right here you don't have that," Gonzalez said. "It's more of an experience. You come in and get a shampoo and a hot towel during the appointment. We usually give a shoulder massage while you have the hot towel before the cut to keep you at ease and relaxed."
Before opening up G. Albert in October, Gonzalez owned a place called Downtown Cut Connection in Danbury.
"It was a successful place for the 10 years we owned it," he said. "But it was time for me to do something different."
Gonzalez said his sensibilities matured as he matured. When he opened Downtown Cut Connection he was 19 years old. He is now 32, and hopes to provide more of a gentlemen's experience.
"I wanted to do something more focused on men besides the typical barbershop," he explained. "I wanted this place to be more about the experience and the way a relaxing appoint could make you feel instead of a typical cut."
He says the personal touch seems to be working on his clientele in New Canaan, as he has already developed several repeat customers in the short month the spa has been open.
"I think guys really appreciate the personal attention and we're starting to get repeat customers already because of that. We keep some light jazz music playing and offer them some complimentary coffee, tea, espresso or wine as well," Gonzalez said. "Men carry a lot of stress with them and we just want to alleviate that when they come here for their haircuts."
Gonzalez said he has been cutting hair since he was 13-years-old, practicing on his brother. It turned out to be a passion he developed while cutting his friends' hair growing up in Washington Heights, a Spanish community, on the upper west side of Manhattan.
"When I met my girlfriend in high school, I found out her mom had a salon," he said. "So I got my first real job cutting hair at 15 and did that for four years before moving to Danbury to open up Downtown Cut Connection."
After doing that for 10 years and looking for a change, Gonzalez happened upon an empty storefront on Elm Street back in July.
"We came to a restaurant called Cava on a Saturday in July and then decided walk around Main and Elm. We saw the first location available for rent that day. We fell in love with the area and put in an offer that same day. By July 30 we signed the lease and then it took us three months to open up and get everything set for October," Gonzalez said.
G. Albert is located at 6 Elm Street and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.