In the past, we have devoted this space to a local food vendor, but this month we decided to broaden our definition of Local Flavor to include successful local businesses that help make our ‘hood such a great place to run ours. First on our list was our neighbor across the street, Strong Island Styles. Since Brian Basile opened his barbershop in 2006, he has had a few very notable experiences; among them, he entered a reality show hosted by Cedric the Entertainer in 2015 (and won 1st place!), and last summer was given the honor of cutting MMA fighter Conor McGregor’s hair prior to his press conference with Floyd Mayweather. Brian is a self-taught barber, and uses a combo of old-fashioned straight razors and “new school” techniques to create the kind of shave designs and patterns he is known for. (He also created his own hair product, which is said to ward off evil spirits.) His shop, now home to 10 barbers, is always buzzing, and while it can’t be judged on flavor, it’ s a great example of local color.
RT: Why did you open Strong Island Styles?
BB: As a young man I was into fashion, which led me to cutting hair for fun. Once I started getting very good, my customers were lining up around the block. I absolutely love giving people makeovers. It’s something that makes me happy to go to work every day. Getting a haircut is one of the cheapest ways to change your mood and feel good.
RT: Who is your ideal customer?
BB: Contrary to all these very expensive salons and corporate-style men’s grooming parlors, I wanted to take the most talented barbers and cater to the customer that cares solely about quality.
RT: What should people know before they come to your shop?
A few of our barbers cut women’s hair. Being that we are a barbershop and we cut hair kind of fast, we give haircuts to women who don’t want to go to the salon and spend $100 when they can spend $20 on a haircut from us.
RT: What is one thing about Strong Island that most people don’t know?
One thing people don’t know about me is that I enjoy speaking to very old customers and hearing about when they were young and how different our generations are.
RT: In what ways does Strong Island give back to the Glen Cove community?
Once a year during the St. Patty’s Day Parade in Glen Cove, we do a fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s. We shave heads to raise money for childhood cancer. This will be our ninth year doing this.
RT: Of course we’re always interested in what people like to eat. What’s your favorite product from Rising Tide Market?
My favorite food is the salmon burger. I also love the coconuts that the friendly staff cuts a hole in so I can drink right out of it with a straw.