Lots Of Years, Locks Of Love At Riverside Barber

Everyone knows the oldest company in Westport: Gault.

Founded in 1863, it’s been a Saugatuck mainstay for 153 years.

At 89 years old, Riverside Barber Shop could be Gault’s grandchild.

But after nearly 9 decades here, it’s probably Westport’s 2nd oldest company.

“Riverside” may be a misnomer. For its first 82 years it was indeed located on Riverside Avenue — a few yards away from Gault.

For over 8 decades Riverside Barber Shop sat on Riverside Avenue (right). DeRosa's restaurant was on the left.

For over 8 decades Riverside Barber Shop sat on Riverside Avenue (right). DeRosa’s restaurant was on the left.

In all those years, there were just 4 owners. John Santella opened it in 1927. His son Lou — the legendary “Mayor of Saugatuck” — took over from John. In 1999 Lou retired, and sold his shop to Pat Vigilio.

In 2009 Pat moved Riverside Barber to Post Road West — above Greg & Tony’s salon — when as part of the Saugatuck Center project, his building and the adjacent DeRosa’s restaurant were torn down.* (Pat donated his barber pole to the Westport Historical Society.)

Pat recently retired. The new owner is Tammy  Stefanidis. She worked for Pat for 7 years, then spent the next few at home, raising her family.

Now she’s back.

Tammy Stefanidis, new owner of the very old Riverside Barber Shop.

Tammy Stefanidis, new owner of the very old Riverside Barber Shop.

Tammy knows the barber shop’s history. She’s proud that longtime — very longtime — customers keep coming back. She doesn’t plan any big changes.

But she does have one interesting offer.

If you’d like to donate your hair to Locks of Love — the non-profit providing hairpieces to children and teenagers suffering medical hair loss — stop in to Riverside Barber Shop.

Tammy will cut it for free.

*Bonus fact: Saugatuck Center was developed by Gault.



10 responses to “Lots Of Years, Locks Of Love At Riverside Barber

  1. Celia Offir

    Tammy, thank you for your generous offer and good luck with the barber shop! Another organization that is doing a great job in this area is Children With Hairloss. They provide a wig to a child every year free of charge until the age of 21 (along with a generous care package). The application for the recipient is easy – you need to prove medical condition but you don’t have to provide them with your taxes. They help everyone and are incredibly kind. Here is the link to learn more: http://www.childrenwithhairloss.us

  2. If the Gaults owned the place, a haircut would cost $150

    • If the Gaults owned the place, they’d come out at midnight for an emergency. They’d quietly make improvements and sometimes not charge, because it would help the community. They’d be the neighbors and friends you always wished you could have.

      • Well said, Dan. Couldn’t agree more! The Gault family and company is exceptionally generous; especially to local non-profit organizations!

  3. Michael Calise

    Calise’s 1929

  4. Terry Santella Anzalone

    My father, John Santella, who established Riverside Barber Shop, and worked there for 60+ years would be very happy with Tammy’s decision. . That was one of his best qualities—helping others.

  5. David Eason

    The only barber shop that I have ever gone to. John, Lou, Pat and now Tammy. She’s a great person and she does a wonderful job. And she’s much better looking than the three previous owners!

  6. Bruce Erickson

    I remember as a boy getting all my haircuts at the Santella’s Barber shop. If my memory is correct I think haircuts in those day were around $1.00/ $1.25

  7. I discovered Tammy’s shop a few months back. She is great, and since for many years I had been going to the Riverside shop, I am happy to realize tha she is carrying on the Santella tradition in town. I unfortunately don’t have enough hair to donate to the cause (too old & too bald), but I recommend anyone younger and more hirsute to go in and enjoy the experience at Tammy’s place!