Laneway snip and shave joint Empire Barbering Co. unveils its speakeasy-inspired lounge and retail space
For some blokes, getting a short back and sides from the local barber is a simple in-and-out process. For others, their semi-regular trip to the barber means much more than a trim – it’s an excuse to luxuriate, refresh and relax. Ashgrove-based Empire Barbering Co. garnered a large client base of gents enamoured with its elevated take on follicle-focused service and now the secretive laneway coiffeur has grown with the addition of Floridita Social Club – a bar-inspired extension for appointment-holding clients to linger before or after their snip over a snifter or sudsy brew.
Vincenzo Forgione likes the appeal of hidden gems. When he started Empire Barbering Co. in the basement of his Bardon abode, it didn’t take long for like-minded lads seeking a unique exclusivity oriented experience to start knocking on his front door. When the business outgrew its house-bound beginnings, Vincenzo snagged a spot at the far end of Sugar Cane Arcade off Waterworks Road in Ashgrove in May 2018 – a spot you’d only see if you were browsing the laneway’s retail spaces or were visiting adjacent bar Arcade Wine. Expanding was always part of Vincenzo’s masterplan for Empire Barbering Co., which continued to flourish thanks to its offering of traditional barbering services with a modern edge. The Empire crew had its eye on the next-door office tenancy (at different points home to a builder and a real estate agent) for its off-the-wall expansion concept, which looked to enhance the barber’s experiential appeal by creating an exclusive space for clients to enjoy a drink before or after their cut.
Inspired by his travels to Havana in 2017, Vincenzo has dubbed the new space Floridita Social Club – named in honour of the famed cocktail bar Floridita (a beloved hangout of Ernest Hemingway and reported birthplace of the daiquiri) and Cuban musical ensemble Buena Vista Social Club. Vincenzo has gutted the space and refashioned it to resemble a Cuban-style speakeasy, with warm orange and yellow tones, a scratch-built bar and pops of neon having patrons feeling like they’ve stepped off the streets of old Havana into a buzzy boozer. It should be clarified that Floridita Social Club is not a bar – it’s a reception and point-of-sale space with a bar aesthetic where those above 18 with appointments can lounge with a complimentary drink included in their service. The shelves are stocked with Caribbean rums, single-malt whiskies from Scotland and Japan, bourbon and craft beer from Mountain Goat. Hair care products are also on display, including pomades from Layrite and Brosh, products from Baxter of California, sweet tobacco-infused perfumes from Texas brand 1812 and even a selection of beard care goods from Knucklesworth, a local brand made by Empire’s own Ross Simms.
Keen for a top-shelf tipple next time you get a trim? Head toEmpire Barbering Co.’s website to make an appointment.