Tag Archives: Compo Center Barber Shop

Friday Flashback #131

When Tommy Ghianuly died last month, Westport lost more than a great barber and good friend.

We lost a man who loved local history — and made his Compo Shopping Center business a shrine to it.

The walls of Tommy’s barber shop are filled with vintage photos. Most customers see them in the mirror as they get their hair cut. Sometimes, someone glances a bit more closely at one or two.

Each of them has a story. Tommy knew them all.

He never wrote them down. Fortunately, in 2001 Staples High School video production teacher Jim Honeycutt teamed up with Phil Woodruff, a retired SHS social studies instructor who was then serving as Westport Historical Society director of oral history.

One morning, Jim filmed Tommy with his photos. They were joined by illustrious artist and longtime Westporter Howard Munce, and town native Jim Feeney.

(From left) Tommy Ghianuly, Jim Feeney and Howard Munce chat about Tommy’s barber shop photos.

These are not talking heads. They’re great conversationalists, sharing stories about the Westport of long ago. They chat about buildings, people, trolleys, downtown, holidays, daily life, and the notorious Compo Inn. At the end, Woodruff makes a cameo appearance.

Tommy, Jim Feeney and Phil are all gone now. But Jim Honeycutt is still very much alive.

After Tommy died, he dug out the 40-minute video. Then he sent it to “06880.”

It’s a way to keep these great Westporters with us.

It’s a way too to remind ourselves why they loved this town. And why we love it — and them.

(To see the video, click below.)

Rami Takes Over For Tommy

When Tommy Ghianuly died last month, longtime customers wondered about the future of Compo Center Barber Shop.

And they were concerned for Tommy’s longtime and well-respected employees,  Felice and Chau.

Not to worry. The 60-year-old business has a new owner. He’s a noted barber himself. He knows the Westport shop well. And he’s committed to keeping it going, without losing a step.

Today was the first day at work for Rami Pirov. But he’s no stranger to the narrow, photo-lined place nestled between Planet Pizza and CVS.

Rami Pirov, at the Compo Center Barber Shop today.

Twenty-five years ago Rami — a barber since age 12 — arrived in the US from his native Uzbekistan. He worked in Long Island and Manhattan. On the Upper East Side he cut the hair of famous athletes like Jorge Posada, Charlie Hayes, Tino Martinez and Mike Piazza.

Ten years ago, Rami started searching for a great barber shop to buy. People recommended Compo Center. He came to Westport, and liked everything about it: the location, clientele and vibe.

It was not for sale. But Rami gave Tommy his number, in case he ever wanted to retire or sell.

Two years ago, Rami called again. Tommy was recovering from surgery. His wife Carolyn saved the letter.

Recently, she gave it to Steve Siegelaub. He’s a real estate lawyer with Berkowitz, Trager & Trager — and, like Dick Berkowitz, a longtime loyal customer and friend of Tommy’s.

Carolyn wanted to make sure that Felice and Chau could keep working. She was glad the barber shop’s legacy could continue — for its customers, and the town.

Felice (left) and Chau (rear), continuing work at Compo Barbers.

The deal closed yesterday. Rami was at work today, as owner/operator. He’ll be open 7 days a week.

Right now, Rami — who is married, and has 4 sons — commutes from Queens. As soon as he can, he’ll move to Connecticut.

In the meantime, he welcomes customers: old and new.

Just like Tommy did.

“Thanks For Supporting Tommy”: Carolyn Ghianuly

When Tommy Ghianuly — the Compo Center Barber Shop owner — died last month, generations of Westporters mourned. His wife Carolyn writes:

The outpouring of love for my man was just incredible. All the people who came to pay their last respects, the cards and letters (not just locally but from people who have moved away, but still had such love and admiration for him) blows me away.

I hope when this deep and awful grief eases for me that I can find comfort in  how much happiness he gave to so many people.

Please post for me my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all his many friends, who loved him during all his years in Westport. He loved them back equally.

The Compo Barber Shop will continue to serve all its loyal customers in the same fashion as always. Tommy will be there in spirit.

Thanks again to all who supported him over his almost 60 years in business.

Tommy Ghianuly

Calling Hours And Funeral Service Set For Tommy

Funeral services for Tommy — Thomas G. Ghianuly, for 50 years the beloved owner of Compo Center Barber Shop, who died earlier today at 83 — will be held  this Friday (January 11, 11 am) at St. Dimitrie Orthodox Church, 504 Sport Hill Road, Easton.

Calling hours are set for Thursday (January 10, 4 to 8 pm) in the Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road, Fairfield.

To sign an online register or to get travel directions, click here.

Tommy Ghianuly

Remembering Tommy Ghianuly

Tommy Ghianuly — for nearly 60 years the owner of Compo Center Barber Shop, and for every one of those days one of the truly great human beings in town — died this morning. 

In November, “06880” honored Tommy as our Unsung Hero of the Week. Here’s that story.

—————————————————–

Compo Center Barber Shop is a throwback.

It’s not a salon. Not a “coiffeur.”

It’s exactly what its name says: a barber shop.

And it’s been that way for nearly 60 years.

Tommy Ghianuly

Tommy Ghianuly was one of the first tenants when Compo Shopping Center opened up. Just out of the service, the Bridgeport native was in the right place at the right time.

Westport was booming. Artists, lawyers, commuters — all needed haircuts.

So did their kids.

Tommy was good. He loved to talk, and his customers loved their conversations.

Compo Barbers prospered. Through every trend — crew cuts, long hair, feathered hair, fades, back to short hair — Tommy adapted.

Times changed. He added female barbers. He had to get rid of his shoeshine guys.

The kids of Tommy’s first customers grew up. They married, moved back, and brought their own kids. Now he’s cutting the hair of their kids.

He saw so many stores in the shopping center come and go. McLellan’s. Lenette’s. Westport Record & Tape. Zaro’s. The Ice Cream Parlor.

Yet Compo Barbers — and Gold’s — are still there. And still growing strong.

Compo Center Barber Shop is one of the last vestiges of old Westport. You hear it in the casual conversations that take place in the waiting area. You see it in the warm, loving way Tommy greets all his customers — the ones who have come for 50 years, and the ones who just moved here last week.

You see the old Westport on the walls, too. For decades, Tommy has collected vintage photos. They show it all: the original Main Street. Horse-drawn trolleys. A long-ago blizzard that shut down the trains.

It’s a collection the Westport Historical Society would be proud to own.

Tommy Ghinauly and his rotary phone. On the wall behind him are some of his many historical photos — and those of several generations of customers, posing together.

Above the photos sits a speaker. The music  — curated by longtime customer Dennis Jackson — is classic. There’s Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett. The other day, Frank Sinatra sang “My Way.”

Since 1959, Tommy Ghianuly has been doing it his way. That makes him our Unsung Hero of the Week.

If not the Month, Year or even Decade.


In 2011, Tommy Ghianuly was honored for what was then 50 years in business. Here’s the story I posted then:

Last Saturday, I got what’s left of my hair cut.

Not exactly blog-worthy — except for this:

When Tom Ghianuly — who has been my barber at his Compo shop since I was a teenager, and who cut my father’s hair for even longer — asked what was new, I couldn’t tell him.

I couldn’t mention that the next day, over 100 of his many customers, friends and admirers had planned a surprise dinner in honor of his 50 years in business.

It’s not easy to keep a secret from a barber — especially one as well-connected and curious as Tom — but these guys did.

The event was the brainchild of attorney Dick Berkowitz.  He had help from a group that included Jim Schadt, Alan Nevas, Ron Gordon, Les Giegerich and Steve Siegelaub.

It’s a microcosm of Tom’s clients and fans:  a former CEO of Reader’s Digest,a retired US District Court judge, a guy who built half of Westport — all there to honor their longtime, beloved barber.

Then-First Selectman Gordon Joseloff praises Tommy Ghianuly, at his 50th anniversary celebration.

Giegerich — 96 years old — was almost 50 when Tom started cutting his hair.  Seigelaub was 5.

That half-century span spoke volumes about Tom.

So did the presence of the Brooks family — Tom’s longtime landlord at Compo Shopping Center.  How often do landlords fete their tenants?

A few people spoke.  They presented Tom and his wife Carolyn with a weekend at the Ocean House at Watch Hill.

In typical Tom fashion, he never expected anything like this — even after half a century of work, even after seeing the Birchwood Country Club parking lot filled as he and the Berkowitzes drove up.  (Dick had told Tom he’d take him and Carolyn out to dinner.)

“Boy, this place is packed!” Tom said.

He had no idea it was packed for him.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff was one of the many Westporters already inside.  When the ceremony began, he read a proclamation.  Then he gave a framed copy to Tom, to hang in his shop.

I’m guessing that on Tuesday — when Compo Center Barber Shop reopened — Tom was embarrassed to put the proclamation up.  He’s much more comfortable with the many photos of historic Westport he’s collected, and which line the walls.

But after 5 decades, Tom Ghianuly is a very important part of town history too.

Unsung Hero #76

Compo Center Barber Shop is a throwback.

It’s not a salon. Not a “coiffeur.”

It’s exactly what its name says: a barber shop.

And it’s been that way for nearly 60 years.

Tommy Ghianuly

Tommy Ghianuly was one of the first tenants when Compo Shopping Center opened up. Just out of the service, the Bridgeport native was in the right place at the right time.

Westport was booming. Artists, lawyers, commuters — all needed haircuts.

So did their kids.

Tommy was good. He loved to talk, and his customers loved their conversations.

Compo Barbers prospered. Through every trend — crew cuts, long hair, feathered hair, fades, back to short hair — Tommy adapted.

Times changed. He added female barbers. He had to get rid of his shoeshine guys.

The kids of Tommy’s first customers grew up. They married, moved back, and brought their own kids. Now he’s cutting the hair of their kids.

He saw so many stores in the shopping center come and go. McLellan’s. Lenette’s. Westport Record & Tape. Zaro’s. The Ice Cream Parlor.

Yet Compo Barbers — and Gold’s — are still there. And still growing strong.

Compo Center Barber Shop is one of the last vestiges of old Westport. You hear it in the casual conversations that take place in the waiting area. You see it in the warm, loving way Tommy greets all his customers — the ones who have come for 50 years, and the ones who just moved here last week.

You see the old Westport on the walls, too. For decades, Tommy has collected vintage photos. They show it all: the original Main Street. Horse-drawn trolleys. A long-ago blizzard that shut down the trains.

It’s a collection the Westport Historical Society would be proud to own.

Tommy Ghinauly and his rotary phone. On the wall behind him are some of his many historical photos — and those of several generations of customers, posing together.

Above the photos sits a speaker. The music  — curated by longtime customer Dennis Jackson — is classic. There’s Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett. The other day, Frank Sinatra sang “My Way.”

Since 1959, Tommy Ghianuly has been doing it his way. That makes him our Unsung Hero of the Week.

If not the Month, Year or even Decade.

(Hat tip: Chip Stephens)

Tommy’s Phone

I’ve been getting my hair cut at Compo Center Barber Shop for over 30 years. (No jokes, please, about why I need to.)

But until last weekend, I never noticed the phone.

Tommy Ghianuly

Compo Barber Shop’s walls are filled with photos of historic Westport. And a rotary phone sits on the counter.

It’s a throwback — to the days, say, of striped poles and barbers in white uniforms.

“It rings loud,” longtime owner Tom Ghianuly explains. “We can hear it over the clippers and whatnot.”

There’s just one problem: Younger customers can’t use it.

They warily stick their fingers in the dial holes, then push futilely. They have no idea you are supposed to turn the dial all the way, until it goes no further.

That’s okay. There’s no reason to borrow Tommy’s rotary phone.

Even 8-year-olds have cells.

Tom Ghianuly’s 50 Years

Last Saturday, I got what’s left of my hair cut.

Not exactly blog-worthy — except for this:

When Tom Ghianuly — who has been my barber at his Compo shop since I was a teenager, and who cut my father’s hair for even longer — asked what was new, I couldn’t tell him.

I couldn’t mention that the next day, over 100 of his many customers, friends and admirers had planned a surprise dinner in honor of his 50 years in business.

It’s not easy to keep a secret from a barber — especially one as well-connected and curious as Tom — but these guys did.

Tom Ghianuly listens as his friends and fans honor him.

The event was the brainchild of attorney Dick Berkowitz.  He had help from a group that included Jim Schadt, Alan Nevas, Ron Gordon, Les Giegerich and Steve Siegelaub.

It’s a microcosm of Tom’s clients and fans:  a former CEO of Reader’s Digest,a retired US District Court judge, a guy who built half of Westport — all there to honor their longtime, beloved barber.

Giegerich — 96 years old — was almost 50 when Tom started cutting his hair.  Seigelaub was 5.

That half-century span spoke volumes about Tom.

So did the presence of the Brooks family — Tom’s longtime landlord at Compo Shopping Center.  How often do landlords fete their tenants?

A few people spoke.  They presented Tom and his wife Carolyn with a weekend at the Ocean House at Watch Hill.

In typical Tom fashion, he never expected anything like this — even after half a century of work, even after seeing the Birchwood Country Club parking lot filled as he and the Berkowitzes drove up.  (Dick had told Tom he’d take him and Carolyn out to dinner.)

“Boy, this place is packed!” Tom said.

He had no idea it was packed for him.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff praises Tom Ghianuly.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff was one of the many Westporters already inside.  When the ceremony began, he read a proclamation.  Then he gave a framed copy to Tom, to hang in his shop.

I’m guessing that on Tuesday — when Compo Center Barber Shop reopened — Tom was embarrassed to put the proclamation up.  He’s much more comfortable with the many photos of historic Westport he’s collected, and which line the walls.

But after 5 decades, Tom Ghianuly is a very important part of town history too.