Harlem’s Superstar Barber

Harlem’s Superstar Barber

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Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop celebrates 10 years this month

Ask any Harlem native to recommend a local barbershop and chances are they’ll mention Denny Moe’s place.

This month, Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop celebrates its 10-year anniversary on Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 133rd and 134th street. The external appearance of the place isn’t flashy, but it has all the endearing elements of a traditional barbershop. When it’s slow, barbers often sit outside and attempt to reel in pedestrians off the street for a $20 cut or $6 shave. If it’s busy, customers pass the time playing chess or watching Sportscenter on one of the flat screen TVs.

Denny Moe is the nickname of owner and founder Dennis Mitchell, who has been cutting hair for more than 30 years. Having barbered for multiple celebrities, including going on tour with Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown, Mitchell is a bit of a superstar in his own right. He markets himself and his shop well, never turning down an opportunity to gain publicity through interviews or television appearances like ABC’s show “What Would You Do?”

Every barbershop has its regulars, but walk-ins and tourists who are looking for a reliable new place or an authentic Harlem barbershop help sustain Denny Moe’s as well. This, Mitchell believes, comes from online investment and promotions. “I consider myself a promotional predator,” he said. “Come to Denny Moe’s barbershop, the world’s most celebrated barbershop. That’s my slogan.”

The shop is represented well on the Internet, and maintains a 4.8 out of 5 star rating according to genbook.com, which includes over two hundred reviews from mostly satisfied customers. A fresh cut leads to happy patrons, but that’s not all they care about. The regulars at Denny Moe’s appreciate more than just the reliable haircuts.

Eugene Gatlin has come in every two weeks for almost a year now. He loves the pleasant atmosphere and calls the shop “peace of mind.” Mike Manuel comes in once a week and likes the reliability of his favorite barber, Jay. Manuel is from Detroit and his former barber told him to check out Denny Moe’s once he moved to New York. Kevin Bissent works at the pharmacy next door and stops by at least once a day. Even when he’s not getting a haircut, Bissent enjoys the relaxed environment and notes the honesty between the staff is impressive.

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Dennis ‘Denny Moe’ Mitchell

Sherlock Turney, 56, was hired six months after the shop opened in 2006 and loves cutting hair alongside Mitchell. Turney has been a barber in the neighborhood since 1995 and says he’s never worked at a better shop than Denny Moe’s.

Before he was ever a boss though, Mitchell, who is now 50, had to prove himself as a barber. His employment record is something he prides himself in, even today. “I’ve worked at 4 barbershops in 34 years. That’s consistency for your ass,” he said.

Mitchell first learned to cut hair on the job in North Carolina at 16, but moved to New York when his aunt offered to help put him through barber school and become licensed. A quick learner, Mitchell says he was hooked from day one. “It was something I really enjoyed doing,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing when you can find something that you love to do and make money with it too. It became a love, and I can honestly say I’ve never worked a day in my life.”

Originally, Mitchell intended to move back after he earned a license, but money talks. “People pay good and tip big here,” he said. Even more than the financial perks of living in the city, Mitchell was smitten with the neighborhood. “I set foot in Harlem when I was 17 years old and it was a love affair,” he said.

Once he got his own shop, Mitchell made sure to give back to the community that gave him so much. In 2008, the shop helped launch “Cutting for a Cure,” where local residents can receive free health screenings, in addition to free haircuts. The event takes place ever other year, and in 2014, over 600 people were screened. Additionally, the shop gives out college scholarships and sponsors toy drives during Christmas and back to school donations in the fall.

Mitchell has two sons and both of them work in the shop. Dennis Mitchell Jr. is a barber and cuts in the chair next to his father’s. Avery Mitchell, 21, owns “Avery’s Corner,” a small stand in the front of the shop that sells hair products. Having grown up in the shop, Avery believes the relational standard couldn’t be higher. “It couldn’t be more relaxed in here. If you’re having a problem, and just want to talk, you can come in here and clear your head. It’s so amazing. It’s just love in here,” he said.

The “our vision” portion of the shop’s website reads, “When you’re with us, you’re with family…At Denny Moe’s you’re in good hands.”

It all starts with the owner, and as Sherlock Turney puts it, “he knows what barberin’ is all about.”

About author

Zac Howard
Zac Howard 5 posts

Zac Howard is a FSU alum and NYU grad student. He loves classic lit, the Miami Dolphins, and Kristen Stewart. For more of his writing, visit his website https://zachowardblog.wordpress.com

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