San Francisco Barber Closing Up Shop After 61 Years – ‘It’s Been A Good Life’ – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – After more than 60 years in business, a barber in San Francisco’s Sunset District will be closing up shop for the final time on Saturday.

Ralph Catalano has made a living at the corner of 18th Avenue and Irving Street since 1961, one haircut at a time.

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“When I first started here, if I was making $100 a week it was a big deal,” he said. “I was doing 12 hours a day. I would start at 7:00 in the morning and work until 7:00 at night, 5 days a week. So, I did a lot of haircuts.”

Over the years, he’s amassed quite the client list.

“It must be 10,000 – 20,000 people, I don’t know,” Catalano said. “You can’t put a number on it. It’s like how many hairs do you have on your head? I don’t know. It’s just so many people.”

But this chapter of his life will come to an end, after a decision that was out of his hands.

“They [the building owners] just told me at the beginning of this year, they’re going to sell the building and you’ve got to skedaddle,” he said.

Though it’s been a difficult pill to swallow, Catalano told KPIX 5 he feels at peace with the decision.

“Yeah, I do. It’s still on my mind, closing up. I think it’ll be better next week than this week. This week is not so good,” he said. “It’s bittersweet. You don’t want to go, but you should go. I’m 84, so it’s time to hang it up.”

On Thursday, some of his long-time clients came in for one final haircut at Catalano’s Barber Shop. Others would call throughout the day, and he’d do his best to get them scheduled before he has to close for good.

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Barber Ralph Catalano outside his barber shop in San Francisco on April 28, 2022. Catalano is closing his shop after 61 years in business. (Max Darrow / CBS)

Barber Ralph Catalano outside his barber shop in San Francisco on April 28, 2022. Catalano is closing his shop after 61 years in business. (Max Darrow / CBS)

“I’ve got some old people. They’re really devastated. They say, ‘what am I supposed to do, Ralph? I’ve been coming to you for 40-50 years. I don’t even know where to look,’” he said.

Catalano is grateful for their loyalty over the years.

“I just want to thank all my customers who gave me the opportunity to cut their hair for so many years,” he said. “For being very loyal and faithful. I had good talks. I learned a lot about their families and my family, our values. It seems like we’re all just one big happy family here, where everybody liked what we were doing, I think.”

His favorite thing about being a barber?

“I guess it’s just the conversation with the people. I think it keeps you young,” he said. “I think conversation is going to be what I miss the most here.”

Though he’ll miss those conversations, Catalano will get to comb through good memories for the rest of his life.

“I bought a house with this place, I raised three kids with this place, it’s been a good life,” he said.

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Though Catalano will no longer have a physical shop, he tells KPIX 5 he’s not done cutting hair yet, as he plans to continue doing house calls.

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