Washington Avenue Barbershop and Neighborhood Hangout Closed After Fire

By Rachel Holliday Smith on July 15, 2014 2:35pm 

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 A fire destroyed Headliners barbershop on Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights on Tuesday.
Fire at Headliners Barbershop
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PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A neighborhood barbershop and hangout spot was closed Tuesday after being "totaled" by a fire Tuesday morning, its owner said. 

Fire swept through Headliners barbershop on Washington Avenue near Prospect Place around 7 a.m., officials said.

Workers, longtime customers and friends gathered to help owner Heathcliff Hernandez clear the rubble, which included a damaged hair drier, a broken coat rack, burned posters and shattered glass.

“As soon as I started telling everybody, they started showing up,” said Hernandez, 42, who has cut hair at the shop for five years and has worked as a barber in Brooklyn for more than two decades.

“I’ve been here for a long time. It’s a minor setback, but I’ll pull through it. I’ve got good people behind me.”

The stylists and customers at Headliners described Hernandez’s shop as a “cornerstone,” “joy” and “great place” because of the busy, warm atmosphere and easy conversations that happen inside, especially on weekends.

“This is like the pre-party. If you’re going out to enjoy yourself on a weekend, you come here to get a haircut, to be sharp,” said Lee Church, 32, who has had his haircut by Hernandez for more than 15 years. He went to the shop to help as soon as he heard about the fire.

“We talk about politics, we talk about everyday life. It’s just a great atmosphere, somewhere where you’d like to be," he said.

“Everybody knows everybody here. This is the spot, as soon as the gates go up,” said Kream Waters, 34, a hair stylist at Headliners who wore a face mask as he helped clear burned equipment.

“Every day is like a party.”

The FDNY brought the fire under control within an hour and is still determining its cause, officials said.

The blaze caused some smoke damage to NSA Supermarket, next door. The grocery store was closed on Tuesday for cleaning. An employee there who declined to give his name said they did not expect there would be any lasting damage.

As for Headliners, its future is unclear. Hernandez said he hopes to be able to reopen in the same location.

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