An iconic hair salon is celebrating 35 years in business amidst record-high store closures.
In our pandemic world, we have become accustomed to the sight of empty storefronts and shuttered windows due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 virus. Many New Yorkers have seen their favorite restaurant, hairdresser, and/or retailer close over the past year, so it is refreshing to see a business not only thrive but also celebrate a positive milestone.
Anonymous Hair Salon has been an IT spot for hair care and social spectacles for over three decades. Since its founding in 1986 by Patricia Winters-Liotta, the storefront located at 105 Sullivan Street in Soho has hosted affordable cuts and stylings, in addition to countless parties over the years. It would not be uncommon for balloons to line the windows and stylists to adorn extravagant garb. Oftentimes community members would just stop by to keep fond company.
“I recently found a photo album and it’s all these photos from the late 90s, early 2000s. They would take photos of the parties here, it’s a little insane to think about. You see how the block and how much it has changed,” said the current owner of Anonymous Hair Salon Vincent Alfano.
While Alfano is a new business owner, he is not unfamiliar with the business itself. As the son of the salon’s original founder Patricia Winters-Liotta, Alfano spent much of his early life amidst the fabled social gatherings and helping his mother sweep the floors after workdays. Now he juggles his profession–adding sound to Netflix and Amazon movies and shows–with owning a business. Alfano never foresaw being responsible for his old stomping grounds but life had other plans. After Winters-Liotta was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer, the mother and son pair decided that Alfano would take the reins of the beloved salon going forward. In 2019 Alfano officially became the owner of Anonymous Hair Salon after his mother’s passing.
“She was like a Sicilian, hippy New York businesswoman. She trash-talked me a little bit, like ‘You can’t run a salon.’ But after her passing, we kept everyone together and even hired some new people, most of the people who started it with her are still here. When I was a kid I would sweep around, handle the money a little bit when I was eleven and twelve years old, and answer the phones and take the appointments,” Alfano said recalling his childhood.
Alfano describes the salon as the Cheers of Soho, that the stylists know consumers’ names and go above and beyond to operate a welcoming atmosphere. However, 2020—Alfano’s first full year as owner—brought a virus that would threaten more than just the salon’s atmosphere. Although he grew up engulfed in the process, nothing could have prepared Alfano for the COVID-19 virus, but he feels like Anonymous Hair Salon has made it through the worst of the pandemic.
“The year before the pandemic was great. We hired new people; we redid the whole storefront. I wanted to have a party like the old ones and put new surround sound speakers in, I was even thinking about opening another location. Then the pandemic hit… it is a strain. Thankfully our landlord is very sympathetic as business owner himself, and we are making do. I try not to stress about it because there is only so much you can do,” Alfano said.
Anonymous Hair Salon is able to continue conducting business with precautions in place, but social distancing measures have prevented plans of a 35th year anniversary party from taking place. Still, Alfano does not want to allow the landmark to pass by without commemoration. When the pandemic is over, he plans on throwing a party akin to his mother’s affairs from decades past.
“I think summer parties are going to be a thing. I can’t see why we can’t put a bartender right here,” Alfano said smiling.