Public Barber Salon Brings a Beatnik Spirit to its North Beach Shop


Public Barber Salon’s newly opened North Beach locale is not your typical hair cutting shop. In fact, a visit to the salon makes you feel more like you’re dropping by for a poetry reading than coming in for a trim. This is esthetic that owner Steve Jester was going for when designing the space, which is built out with a 4,000 book library covering the walls.

“I wanted to give the idea that North Beach is one of the older neighborhoods in San Francisco,” Jester said. “It had all the old poets and writers and there’s so much history to the neighborhood, especially in the beatnik era, so I figured a library would do it justice.”

A stone’s throw from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore and the cafes and bars where famous beat writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Neal Cassady hung out, Public Barber Salon is a good fit for the neighborhood.

Jester said that 90 percent of the shop’s decorations are vintage items from local flea markets and Craigslist. “It’s just more fun that way,” he said. “It takes a little more time but there’s a little more soul to it.”

Besides the 4,000 books, which are all hard covered and date from 1910 to 1960, there is a vintage Pepsi machine where customers can get free beverages with their haircuts, and all types of trinkets like a classic globe, an old timey-bicycle, and 50’s era barber shop supplies. Jester also hosts rotating art shows showcasing local artists at the salon.

Public Barber Salon’s North Beach shop is on 1528 Grant Avenue and is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Another location, minus the books, is in the Tenderloin at 571 Geary Street.

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