Daughter of Cheshire’s longest-working barber takes the helm

CHESHIRE — The daughter of the town’s longest-working barber is planning to keep up the family business and update the shop at 1042 S. Main St.

Joe Mazzacane, 90, started Cheshire Barber Shop in 1951 and worked until July, when an injury sent him to the Elim Park retirement community. When further medical setbacks prevented him from going back to work, he called his daughter and former employee, Maria Mazzacane Perez, to keep the business open until he returned.

“He’s planning on coming back,” Perez said.

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Mazzacane learned his craft at his father and grandfather’s barber shop in New Haven. Perez’s brother owns a barber shop in Hamden and Perez worked intermittently for her father over the years.

“He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know,” she said. “All his customers loved him.”

Perez says she called all of the town’s other barber shops to confirm her father’s place as most senior.

On Friday, town resident Shih Yu Ma came with his wife for a haircut. He’s known Mazzacane for about 30 years.

“Joe’s a great guy,” Ma said.

Perez said her father knows the names of all his customers and things like where their kids went to school.

“This isn’t just a job for him. This is his life. Since my mom passed, this is why he gets up in the morning,” she said.

While waiting for her father to return, Perez is trying to bring in new, younger clients and fixing up the aging shop. She recently replaced the ceiling, updated the mirror and cabinets and is in the midst of painting over paneling and old wallpaper.

“All his customers were his age or older,” Perez said. “They watched the place get old with them.”

Even the long-time clients are pleased with the updates, she said.

“I’ve been putting all my energy into modernizing it,” Perez said.

She left semi-retirement and frequent travel with her husband to take over the barber shop, which now demands regular hours.

“I was hesitant at first but I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” Perez said. “It’s nice to give back to my father.”

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