David Beltran's barbering career has taken him from Chicago, to Puerto Rico, to Tampa, and ultimately to Seminole Heights.
And he says he's here to stay, despite the “for sale” sign on the small 1918 building perched right on the edge of Florida Avenue traffic. The Seminole Heights Barbershop is very much a going concern, and Beltran, who rents the building, said he's committed to staying in the neighborhood.
If the building sells and Beltran is forced to move out, he said, “I'm gonna stay in the Seminole Heights area. I will find another place that I can rent in the area. I would like to stay here and retire, honestly,” Beltran said.
5115 N. Florida Ave
Old school: “I'm an old school barber,” said Beltran, who eschews some of the latest, and more labor-intensive, hair styles. “I'd rather stay with regular hair cuts.” But does he do straight razor shaves? “Yes I do,” Beltran said. “I'm old school, with the hot towels and everything. Today, (other barbers) are afraid of using the razors. I'm not. I can do beards, I can do goatees. If it's about gentlemen, I'm there.”
Women welcome: Cosmetologist Maribel Velasquez is also available at Seminole Heights Barbershop for manicures, pedicures, waxing, hairstyling, colors, and perms.
Patriot decor: A large U.S. flag hangs inside the shop. “I just love the American flag,” said Beltran, “and it's related to my profession. You know, the barber pole is red, blue and white.”
Showing his roots: “I was raised in a barbershop,” said Beltran, 48, a third generation barber. As a child in his native Chicago, he would shine customers' shoes in his father's shop on Saturday afternoons. At 50 cents a shoe, “I used to make like three dollars,” Beltran said. “That was a lot of money when I was 8 years old.”
At about the same time in his life, the apartment building Beltran lived in with his family burned down. So they all moved to Moca, Puerto Rico, where Beltran's grandfather owned a large piece of land. There the local neighbors built the Beltran family, which included Beltran's nine siblings, a humble wood house.
Beltran attended barber school after graduating from high school and again worked in his father's shop, this time tending to customer's heads. Beltran returned to the U.S. in 1991, settling in West Tampa and working at Abdella Tijerazo Hairstylists for 15 years. After that he opened his own El Varon hair salon at Armenia and Sligh avenues. After five years the building was sold, so Beltran decided to move to his current location.
Why Seminole Heights?: “The area of West Tampa, I took a look at it and I could see it started getting saturated with a lot of barbershops around. Sligh and Armenia too. I said, 'Wow, I gotta find a place that is like virgin, where there's no competition.' Then I started hearing all these things about Seminole Heights, what they're trying to do with the business guild,” Beltran said, referring to the Business Guild of Seminole Heights. “I got a vision — this area is going to be like Hyde Park. When you drive north from downtown, my shop is first one you hit.”
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.