O’Briens Barbers – Start a new tradition

Once upon a time, Steven and I moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Denver, Colorado, and had to find all new places for our services. I had to find a new nail salon, much like he had to find a new barbershop. Shortly after arriving, Steven had his hair cut (or should I say “chopped”) by a barbershop that will remain nameless; needless to say when he set out for the second barbershop, he was a little skeptical. 

We found O’Briens Tonsorial Parlor (Barbershop) on Yelp!; what got us excited were the lists of reviews that all pointed toward O’Briens being THE PLACE to get a male haircut. They would do it extremely well at an incredibly reasonable price, the reviews said. So, we biked down to 8th Ave from our apartment and gave ‘er a try. 

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O’Briens is situated in the Southeast neighborhood at 4324 E 8th Ave in Denver, CO. Click on the picture to see their Yelp! reviews. Credit: Steven Mercer June 2013

When entering the small shop on 8th Ave, you notice right away the nostalgic, brown barber’s chairs, tools, and mirrors; everything screaming “this place is legit”. Each of the barbers has their own station which are orderly and neat; there’s no over-flow of vanity hair product, or useless gadgets – just clippers, scissors, and razors. The necessities – nothing fancy. 

And, O’Briens is hopping! There was not one single chair empty, as men of all ages were either in the barber chairs or waiting patiently in chairs that lined the opposite wall. All of which surrounded one single television that had the baseball game playing. Perfect!

It isn’t difficult to notice the amount of repeat customers as Mr. Dick Alderson, the owner, and his colleagues call out friendly salutations, including first names, to each man that enter. It isn’t difficult to notice that visiting O’Briens isn’t about just getting your hair cut – it’s about catching up with your buddies, watching the game, and ultimately, carrying on tradition. It didn’t matter that it was Steven’s first time to the shop, either. The gentleman all treated him courteously and respectfully, even when he asked for the part in his hair to be “straight-razored” (a technique sometimes used to define the separation, or part, in hair). 

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Steven being taken care of by the boss-man himself, Mr. Dick Alderson of O’Briens. Credit: Kirsten Ebey June 2013

I will never forget the way Mr. Alderson looked at Steven – “You want what? Who did THAT?” I about died as he laughed, and figured out another way to help Steven out with his request. As I watched him cut Steven’s hair, I tuned into the conversations going on around me, and almost fell out of my chair from openly laughing so hard. One man, balding in the center of the top of his head advised Mr. Alderson to give Steven a mohawk, in which Steven replied that he was all set on the mohawk – he’d had one a few times. The man went on to explain it was the “cool thing to do” and pointed to the top of his head. “You see this? It’s called a reverse mohawk, son!” Another man was speaking with his barber about someone they knew that had a mullet, in which the barber advised that he charged double for that hairstyle (jokingly). I can’t even begin to describe how badly my stomach and face hurt from laughing so hard – I will never miss one of Steven’s haircuts, as long as he visits O’Briens.

Not only do they have a sense of humor, but each barber is damn good at what he does. All four have been in the business for as long as I’ve been alive, to say the least, and takes pride in his work. Check out Steven’s before and after pictures: 

BEFORE

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AFTER:

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The guys at O’Briens pay attention to what their customers want, and understand how to make their customers happy. No frills, nothing fancy – just a good old-fashioned haircut, and clean shave. It’s the simple things in life that bring the most joy, right?

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Owner of O’Briens, Mr. Dick Alderson, taking a crack at Steven’s mop on his head. He did such a great job! Credit: Kirsten Ebey June 2013

Hey, guys – please make sure you stop in and check out O’Briens. It’s an experience and new tradition you’ll be thankful for, count on it. Make sure you bring cash – no credit cards, please. Also, if you’d like to call ahead and make an appointment in your busy schedule, give them a shout: (303) 320 – 9621. Otherwise, walk-in’s are totally welcome. 

Hope to see you there in a couple of weeks!

 

Steep Coffee and Tea – Much Needed Modern Relaxation

Steep Coffee and Tea, 4100 E 8th Ave, Denver, CO 80220. Credit: Kirsten Ebey

 

While waiting for a haircut appointment, Steven and I decided to take a walk down 8th St, a neighborhood we haven’t really explored yet. This is when we stumbled upon a coffee and tea shop that looked long established, and fixated within the community. Oddly enough, Steep Coffee and Tea only came into existence 3 ½ months ago!

As cliche as it may sound, as you walk into the store, you can’t help but exhale a sigh of relief. Honestly, the relaxing, neat and simple-yet-orderly interior provides a familiar welcome of home. It’s definitely a place you can let your hair down while finishing up some work utilizing free wifi, reading a good book, or just catching up with a friend.

We were greeted at the counter with free samples of delicious blends of tea, cream, coffee, lemonade, and beyond – sometimes all at once. I thought I was some sort of self-created tea connoisseur before visiting Steep – nope, wrong. I had never had blends like Steep had created effortlessly – earl grey tea mixed with a vanilla cream, served chilled. Why didn’t I ever think of that? What an amazing combination! So of course, I order this new-found love of my life, and Steven ordered a strawberry Tea-monade, a mixture of strawberry, lemonade, and tea, also chilled – a super refreshing drink that is perfect for these summer months. Bonus: All tea varieties are gluten free and all signature drinks can be created Vegan. 

 

Of course, we couldn’t stop at just the drinks – Steep offers an assortment of baked goods (collaborating with another 8th Ave business, Leaf & Crumb) and panini’s. Their small, creative food menu is perfect for hanging out and having a snack, or on the go lunch. A small cooler area at the counter holds numerous Naked juices, Izze’s, and other on-the-go beverages.

Earl Grey Vanilla Cream (left) and Strawberry Tea-Monade (right). Credit: Kirsten Ebey June 2013

 

While Steven ordered the Pesto Chicken Panini, I took a stab at the Chicken Tuscan. Our entire order – two fairly large beverages and two panini’s – was under $20. As you all know, it can be very difficult to get a good lunch for two under $20 in this city, and even MORE difficult to be completely ecstatic about what you received! I was so pleased that this beautifully modern, creative establishment had such affordable and delicious food. I’ll say it – I judged the book by its cover; I thought for sure our small lunch would cost closer to $30. Everything that we ordered was above and beyond my initial judgment – the food is affordable; the staff is easy going and polite; the owner, Dan Cohen, is a cool, down-to-Earth guy that is right there in the action behind the counter; the value is definitely apparent in visiting Steep.

 

Mmmm Chicken Tuscan “sammich”, as Steven and I say. Credit: Kirsten Ebey June 2013

After speaking with owner, Dan Cohen, we got the feeling that he was really aimed at bettering the community with his shop. For example, the napkins and cup containers are all biodegradable and / or recyclable, which is such a huge plus in lessening our footprint. He supports local artists by providing his shop’s walls as a place to display original artwork for sale. He worked relentlessly (with local design assistance) to get the ambience and atmosphere of Steep just right, and totally nailed it. Classes are held, discussing and educating the community on the world of tea and all of its benefits. The interest is so far from becoming the “Next Big Thing”, or another stuffy, materialistic tea and coffee shop, which we thank him for. If I wanted to go to a commercial chain coffee shop, I would have – there are more than enough readily available on 8th, and in Denver in general.

Steven Mercer enjoying his Pesto Chicken Panini. Credit: Kirsten Ebey June 2013

Steven Mercer enjoying his Pesto Chicken Panini. Credit: Kirsten Ebey June 2013

 

Visiting Steep can be done by car or bike – there’s plenty of free parking as well as street parking available. Opportunity exists in numerous areas around the shop to lock up your bike.

 

Definitely stop by and watch the patio come to life – Steep hopes to have this project completed next month, providing more seating and the ability to relax and enjoy outside. Additional pluses about Steep are the other product offerings within the shop. They have a plethora of tea paraphernalia like steepers, mugs, and pots (to name just a few) inside, available and ready for purchase.

 

For more information about Steep, be sure to click the links within this DenverSpeax’s feature and head to their Facebook page. I especially love all of the pictures they have reaffirming how awesome they are. Check it out!