Thursday, July 19, 2018

Wheel Continues To Turn In Parkview Hair Of North Beach

by pennylane986 (writer), San Francisco, December 16, 2008


High city rents run risk of shutting down old businesses housing San Francisco's best storytellers, the old, original neighborhood greats.

Tony Balistreri sits his client down in his 1940s barber chair next to a worn wooden bar. Its lackluster varnish shows years of use and next to it is a big, vintage yellow sink. He takes scissors and a neck razor and begins a classic cut. Parkview Hair has been modernized since it opened in 1948, but customers can still get old-fashioned service.

“I came to the US in January 1962 and I entered New York on a boat,” Balistreri revealed. He grew up in Sicily and learned professional hair-cutting skills when he was 12. He dresses professionally with slacks, dress shoes, a collared shirt and tie.

San Francisco’s North Beach is filled with an Italian and Bohemian spirit.  Friends eat lunch and drink Peroni on Columbus Street sidewalk cafes. Kids play Frisbee in Washington Square Park. And right across from Saints Peter and Paul Church, a gem that fills one with that same spirit, Parkview Hair.

The salon is at risk like many other businesses in the neighborhood. Its rent is being raised 70 percent in June.

These economic pressures have impacted the neighborhood before and businesses like Luigi’s and the Gloria Delicatessen were not so lucky.

Joe Jachetta, a North Beach native who was born on Vallejo Street, founded the barbershop. He handed Christine Marchesotti, Parkview’s current owner, the keys three years ago this June. Jachetta has fallen ill, but everyone in the neighborhood knows and remembers him from his years as a barber. His grandfather was one of the first cooks at Fior D’ Italia and his mother was born on Broadway.

Marchesotti fondly recalls the original salon with black and white checkered floors and old barber chairs from 1948 when the salon first opened, and she found a way to modernize and update without losing its authentic feeling.

Today, Parkview complements its older amenities with richly colored red walls and hardwood floors, new mirrors and salon chairs, modernized drying systems and shampoo bowls. When clients are waiting for their appointment, they can watch passers-by in the park from chairs in the salon’s bay windows.

“There is nothing to be negative about, we make the best out of everything and are grateful,” Marchesotti said of working five days a week and sometimes 12 to 14 hour days at age 59 in order to persevere and stay open. She works in high heels and maintains a youthful look and attitude. “The wheel continues to turn in Parkview, I’ll tell you,” she said.

Jachetta still comes in periodically on Tuesdays to see old friends and give haircuts, because he is always drawn back in by the rich memories he has of the neighborhood, like singing for his family’s weddings at Saints Peter and Paul. Some of his clients have since passed away, but their children still frequent the salon.

“It’s like being at home, but I am working,” Marchesotti said of the welcoming, family-oriented feeling when one walks into Parkview. “It has more of a relaxed atmosphere, and the clients are characters.”

Marchesotti vows to fight to stay open despite the city’s growing gentrification. Hopefully, old-fashioned service will keep clients walking through the doors to experience a slice of historic San Francisco.

To this day, friends and neighboring businesses bring in pastry and food to share. It is a place to share conversations and banter with neighborhood locals, some speaking Italian, English and every other language in between.

Parkview Hair is located on 629 Union Street in San Francisco’s historic North Beach District, and its phone number is (415) 205-1948.

About the Writer

pennylane986 is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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