Before restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic swept the state in mid-March, Ross Garza hadn’t missed a day of work in 27 years.
Unfortunately, like all other nonessential business owners in Pennsylvania, the veteran barber, who has operated Garza’s Cutting Zone in north Bethlehem since 1993, was forced to temporarily close up shop to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Facing indefinite unemployment, Garza maintained a positive outlook and decided to use the down time to make improvements to his 1429 Stefko Blvd. shop, renovating it from top to bottom.
It wasn’t until a month later, when the Bethlehem Township barber was hit with much worse news, that his vision became clearer: He’d turn his once sports-centric barbershop — featuring long-accumulated athlete photos and other memorabilia — into a less-cluttered cutting zone, with an industrial theme paying homage to his family’s roots.
“On April 25, my dad passed away, as he unfortunately contracted the virus while he was in a nursing home,” Garza said. “He had complications from congestive heart failure, and the COVID was sort of secondary. He was the greatest guy, and we all miss him so much. I think he actually died of a broken heart more than anything. My mom and him were married 63 years, and they weren’t allowed to see each other for three months.”
Garza’s late father, Richard Garza, retired from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission after working as a bartender and manager at Bethlehem’s Beef Baron pub for 30 years.
Both of Ross Garza’s late grandfathers were longtime employees of the Bethlehem Steel Corp.
“My siblings and I were definitely brought up in a blue-collar household,” said Garza, who got his start in barbering at CJ Barbers in Whitehall Township. “My mom is Polish and Russian, and my dad was Mexican, and we all just had a really big appreciation for Bethlehem Steel.”
Calling his dad his “best buddy,” Garza paid tribute to him by replacing the shop’s football helmets, team pennants and other sports decor with old, black-and-white photos of his dad, including an enlarged shot of him and his friends hanging out on south Bethlehem’s Third Street and pictures of the 1952 and ’53 Liberty High School football teams, of which his dad was a member.
Other improvements to the shop, which reopened June 26, include new gray walls, Pergo flooring, metal shelving and reupholstered barber chairs.
Ross also added nods to the steel industry, including the famous 1932 “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” photo, depicting 11 construction workers seated on a beam at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, more than 800 feet above Manhattan’s streets.
Garza’s Cutting Zone, offering $25 haircuts, is implementing COVID-19 safety measures, including enhanced cleaning, social distancing and mask wearing by staff and clients.
To schedule an appointment, call 610-866-6642 or visit garzascuttingzone.com.
More hair happenings
Staying on the topic of hair care, two new salons have opened with COVID-19 safety guidelines in Lehigh County.
First, L&C Beauty Salon opened earlier this month at 2027 Union Blvd. in east Allentown. The building previously housed A-Town Tool.
Owner Munefa Tahhan, with nearly 30 years of experience in hair styling, offers a wide variety of services, including haircuts, coloring, highlights and updos. Info: 484-221-8458.
Second, Supercuts recently opened at 2630 MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township.
The chain, with more than 2,700 salons across the country, offer men’s, women’s and children’s haircuts, along with color services and waxing. Professional hair care products from Paul Mitchell, Biolage, Redken, American Crew, Nioxin and more are also available for purchase.
The Whitehall facility, next to Starbucks in a newly constructed strip mall on the former Pier 1 Imports site, is offering $9.95 haircuts in celebration of its grand opening. Info: supercuts.com.
About a mile south of the new Supercuts salon, a former hot spot for bikes, Barbies and board games has been converted into a destination for carpeting, tiles and hardwood flooring in Whitehall.
Carpet & Tile Mart, a third-generation, family-owned business with more than a dozen flooring supercenters along the East Coast, on Thursday held a soft opening of its newest location, Lomax Carpet & Tile Mart, at the former Toys R Us building at 955 Grape St., according to General Manager Karen Allen.
“We cover all flooring needs — in-stock, special orders and quick installation,” Allen said. “We have everything from hardwood, laminate and luxury vinyl plank to hundreds of area rugs, wall-to-wall carpeting options and back splashes.”
Carpet & Tile Mart was founded in New Castle, Delaware, in 1967 by Sam Longwill, who was able to stock and sell broadloom carpet and area rugs at deep discounts by buying mill overstocks, factory leftovers and remnants from dozens of manufacturers.
The business, which later acquired the legendary Lomax Rug Company in Philadelphia, continues to buy direct from mills and manufacturers, eliminating the middleman as well as markups that are normally associated with flooring franchise stores and big-box home center flooring departments, according to a company description. Info: carpetmart.com.
Across the street from Lomax, Lehigh Valley Mall is abuzz with activity:
First, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, selling bath bombs, body lotions, makeup and more, opened Thursday in a lower level space near Starbucks, according to Lush spokeswoman Neia Sergienko. The space previously housed bareMinerals.
Customers are able to shop a wide array of beauty and personal care products, including bath oils, body scrubs, shower gels, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, lip balms, deodorants and perfumes.
Products are made from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, essential oils and safe synthetics, according to the website. They also are made by hand using little or no packaging and only vegetarian ingredients.
Lush, with more than 260 shops across North America, was founded by Mark Wolverton and Karen Delaney-Wolverton, who opened their first location in 1996 in Vancouver, Canada. Info: lushusa.com.
Second, Dave & Buster’s — billed as “the ultimate destination to eat, drink, play and watch” — is planning to open Oct. 26 on the outparcel that formerly hosted a Friendly’s, Wendy’s and office tenants, according to a news release.
The 30,000-square-foot complex, employing 120 front- and back-of-house workers, will feature an arcade with hundreds of games and a sports bar with dozens of high-definition televisions, according to the release.
The chain, headquartered in Dallas, operates more than 120 restaurant/entertainment complexes throughout North America, including a few locations in Philadelphia and Montgomery County.
According to the chain’s website, safety protocols prompted by the coronavirus pandemic include: disposable menus, tables at least 6 feet apart, dedicated staff to sanitize tables and games regularly, suspended use of some games, masks required for all guests and team members receiving health and temperature checks before shifts and wearing masks and gloves. Info: daveandbusters.com.
For fans of souvlaki, spanakopita and other Greek specialties, Yianni’s Taverna, which closed in June 2017 due to damage from a fire, is expected to reopen next month at 3760 Old Philadelphia Pike, according to co-owner Maria Zannakis Manakos.
“We’ve spent a lot of time fixing up this place, so we’re really excited,” said Manakos, who will be operating the restaurant with her sister-in-law, Melissa Manta Zannakis.
Yianni’s originally opened in 2009 at the site of the former Gus’s Crossroads, which Manakos’ parents, Greek-born Gus and Eleni Zannakis, operated for more than 35 years.
The restaurant, offering seating for more than 100 customers inside and on an adjacent deck, quickly became a hot spot for authentic Greek cuisine, including skordalia and other homemade spreads, grilled octopus, spit-roasted leg of lamb, moussaka and gyro platters.
According to Manakos, the revamped menu will feature “old favorites and some new surprises.”
Customers also will be able to enjoy beer, wine and cocktails from a newly constructed rectangular bar, situated at the front of the dining room.
Stay up-to-date on the business’ progress online at facebook.com/YiannisGreekTaverna.
Speaking of Mediterranean cuisine, Syriana Mediterranean Grill, with seating for more than a dozen customers at indoor and outdoor tables, opened Sept. 20 at 1916 Hanover Ave. (former Al Tanour Middle Eastern restaurant) in east Allentown, according to worker Maria Alkai.
The fast-casual Syriana, operated by Alkai’s parents, Basem Alkai and Ritta Kallas, offers sandwiches such as beef or chicken shawarma, shish tawook and sujuk; entrees like tilapia and toshka; and such salads as fattoush and tabouli.
A wide variety of appetizers includes baba ganoush, fried cauliflower, hummus, kibbeh, muhammara, spinach pies and vegan grape leaves.
The restaurant, which takes its name from the family’s Syrian background, also serves made-fresh-daily desserts like baklava.Info: 484-929-9001.
Retail Watch, appearing every weekend, keeps track of retail and restaurant news in the Lehigh Valley. Contact Ryan Kneller at 610-820-6597 or [email protected]
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