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Flushing barber finds new digs across the street

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For Eddie Vassallo an 11th-hour search has come to a happy ending at a familiar location.

The owner of the Flushing barbershop called Northern and Parsons found out earlier this year that he would not be able to stay at his location at 144-13 Northern Blvd., where he had cut hair and given shaves for 36 years.

The business, affectionately called Eddie’s Barbershop, was in danger of closing for good.

Told he would have to clear out by June, Vassallo, a 57-year-old Maspeth resident, began searching for a new home.

In early May, Vassallo met with Sid Golden, the owner of a building across the street on Northern Boulevard. The two soon negotiated a deal.

“We got together on the price ... and we signed the lease,” said Vassallo, happy that the shop will stay near the intersection of Northern and Parsons boulevards.

At the beginning of June, Vassallo and his co-worker, Michael Christofidis, will haul their belongings across the street to their new home at 144-16 Northern Blvd., which was the site of a candy store until earlier in the year.

The business that Vassallo now runs has existed for nearly a half century.

In the 1950s, the shop opened on the south side of Northern Boulevard. Around 1964, the shop moved to the north side of the street.

Two years later, Vassallo, a barber’s apprentice who had emigrated from southern Italy in 1960, came to the store.

In 1975, Vassallo bought the business and hired his brother, Angelo. The two worked side by side for 22 years before Angelo Vassallo died of cancer in 1997.

According to Vassallo, the business’s lease troubles began in October 2000, when Midwood Management, the building’s management company, extended his lease only until January 2002 instead of the usual five years.

Stephen Brown, director of operations for Midwood and representative of the building’s owner, said he would not comment on the shop’s situation when asked earlier this month.

The lease expired on Jan. 31 without being renewed, Vassallo said.

John Usden, the owner of the building, told Vassallo that he would try to help him find another place to stay, Vassallo said.

“At that point, I didn’t look for anything else because he’d do something for me,” Vassallo said.

But Usden, who had another spot in mind for the barbershop, found out it was unavailable for another year, and Eddie’s Barbershop was left scrambling, Vassallo said.

Vassallo thought he would have to close the business down until he came in contact with Golden. About two weeks ago, the two parties signed a lease for 10 years.

“I was surprised because there were not many stores that were empty,” said Vassallo. “I’m pretty grateful.”

The new rent at $2,250 is about $200 a month more than Vassallo has been paying for a smaller space, and he said that some of the difference would have to come out of his salary.

Although thankful for finding a new home, Vassallo admitted he was sad to leave the space in which he had spent most of his life.

“After 36 years I’m sure going to miss it,” he said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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