The Square Deal: Barbery at its Finest

Six Chair traditional barber shop with lounge to open in South Pasadena July 2018

PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | | Square Deal Barber Shop on Mission Street South Pasadena has a rich history and is being re-modeled and opened again in July 2018
PHOTO: John Halminski’s Archive |

As a city, South Pasadena holds a unique charm. Historic houses line South Pasadena’s tree-laden streets, and local cornerstones like Fair Oaks Pharmacy make South Pasadena shine with timeless nostalgia.

Sitting on Mission street, John Halminski’s barbershop, the Square Deal, is being carefully built with a similar old school atmosphere.

PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | | John Halminski, 3rd generation owner of Square Deal Barber Shop on Mission Street South Pasadena is reopening with a new remodel and a fresh concept

In Halminski’s mind, the Square Deal will resemble an exquisitely traditional barber shop, where individuals come not only for a great cut, but to enjoy the community and camaraderie of the shop. He plans on developing a space where guys can get a hot towel treatment and straight shave, while chatting with his barbers.

PHOTO: John Halminski’s Archive |

Halminski represents the third generation of his family to own the Square Deal. Founded originally by his grandfather William Halminski in 1925, the barbershop was named after the labor protection legislation created by Theodore Roosevelt. After William worked as a barber for nearly 30 years, John Halminski’s father, Edward “Hal” Halminski, was introduced to the family business in 1953. In the shop, “Hal”, who had recently returned from World War II, was given a place to work alongside his father and eventually spend time with his son.

For the Halminski’s, who initially immigrated from Poland before coming to California from the east coast, South Pasadena acted as a community for the family to develop American roots. Now, nearly a century since his grandfather broke ground on the Square Deal, John Halminski is garnering the location with the grit and character that it has had for generations.

“As a kid I would come listen to stories in the barbershop. When someone was in the chair, it didn’t really matter what their background was.” notes Halminski,”The barbershop was a place where people can truly be themselves, a place that feels like home.”

PHOTO: John Halminski’s Archive |

In creating the ambiance of a classic barbershop, Halminski has decided to curate an environment without the bells and whistles – an intimate setting where customers feel free to talk about anything from city politics to sports. He will, however, include many details which reflect the deep roots his family has in South Pasadena, like his grandfather’s original Barber’s pole.

PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | | John Halminski during the interview with’s Matt Wakumoto right in the middle of the remodel of the square deal barber shop

“I want to carry on the legacy and tradition, something that I can hand down to my kids – a place that will give back to the community.” said Halminski.

After obtaining all of his licensing, Halminski is now working on the set up of his shop. With construction underway, he hopes to open his six-chair shop in mid to late July.

PHOTO: John Halminski’s Archive |


- Advertisement -


  1. Michael: your great story reminds me of my Uncle Gus Genova and his “White Sands” barbershop in Brooklyn, New York. He had the pump-up chairs, and the black and white hexagonal tiles on the floor. He had he barber pole, but most of all he had the clientele. He had the spirit. He was the neighborhood barber, active in the local parish and the Knights of Columbus. There was the traditional shave with the hot lather. Each station had a lather machine as well as the special shampooing sink with the cut out for your neck. No bells, no whistles. The shop had that barber powder smell in the air. As a kid from California on visits , we always had to get a haircut at Uncle Gus’s. He was the real deal. My Mom told me he was giving haircuts on the boat while emigrating (legally) from his home in Sicily to America. Thank you for keeping the barbershop tradition alive and best wishes to John for success.

  2. This is a heartfelt family history.
    My grandfather gave me my first haircut in that building around 1950.
    I’m so proud of my cousin John for continuing the legacy.
    Even if I wasn’t a relative, this story would still be inspirational.