BusinessThe Examiner

End of an Era: Thornwood Hair Salon to Close After 53 Years

We are part of The Trust Project
Crown Hair Design in Thornwood
Pictured, from left, are Crown Hair Design hairstylists April Reda, Anna Marcin and Eva Kischak. They held a party last weekend to commemorate the Thornwood salon, which will be going out of business on Saturday. Martin Wilbur photo

When a longtime business has been in the same location for decades, it’s easy to think that it will always be there.

But this Saturday, when the last customer leaves Crown Hair Design in Thornwood’s Rose Hill Shopping Center, it will be the final call for a salon that has run by the same man for 53 years.

Its 85-year-old owner, John Torzilli, who opened the shop with his two brothers in 1968 and kept the business running in the same storefront through innumerable style changes, recessions and most recently a pandemic, suffered a stroke in December and has been forced into retirement, said Eva Kischak, one of his three longtime hairdressers.

For the past five months, Kischak, along with 21-year veteran April Reda and Anna Marcin, who has been with Torzilli since 1976, have been running the shop. In early April they were contacted by his family confirming that Torzilli wouldn’t be returning and they would need to close.

“It’s just amazing. He was always pretty much here before us every morning and he was here after us every day, five days a week,” Kischak said.

Torzilli’s two brothers, Rio and Angelo, eventually ran their own shops elsewhere in Westchester, but Torzilli persevered. Early on, the salon only cut and styled women’s hair, while Continental Hair Salon, which is literally next door to Crown, cut men’s hair.

But over the years people started bringing their children into the salon, and Torzilli, a top-notch hairstylist and barber in his own right, would cut anyone’s hair.

Marcin has worked at Crown through so many of her personal milestones, from the time she was dating her husband, to getting engaged, then married and starting a family, that it’s almost like she’s been part of Torzilli’s family as well.

Longtime customer and Thornwood resident Carol Schliman said Torzilli has been an outstanding haircutter. Her father was also a barber and she said she could tell when someone had talent behind the chair. He and his stylists were so accomplished, there was never a need to go anywhere else once she moved to town in 1970.

“He gave a great haircut,” Schliman said. “If your hair didn’t curl, it would lay so perfectly. You wouldn’t want to go anyplace else for a haircut, so I never went anywhere else.”

Two longtime Rose Hill Shopping Center merchants said they have missed Torzilli these past five months. Michael DiNardo, who owns Silvio’s Ristorante a few doors down, said he would see him every morning. He called Torzilli always respectful and a class act.

“The girls have been with him a long time, that says a lot about somebody,” DiNardo said. “Today, it doesn’t take much for someone to just leave and take off somewhere else. He will be missed.”

Bobby Artuso, the owner of Artuso Bakery, said losing Crown Hair Design and Torzilli will be felt.

“When you lose a tenant, it’s a friendship and everybody is on the same page,” he said. “Everybody wants the same thing for everybody and everybody helps each other in the shopping center.”

Reda said everyone in the shop knew each other, not only her two colleagues and Torzilli but the customers who stayed with them, in some cases for decades. Plus, with most everyone local, it was a quick and easy commute.

“It’s very convenient, and like Eva said, family,” Reda explained. “We’re all very close and we’re going to go next door together, the three of us.”

That may be the silver lining for Kischak, Reda and Marcin. As bittersweet as the closing of Crown will be when they shut the doors early Saturday evening, they will be working at Continental starting next week and their customers will still see familiar faces, relationships cultivated over decades in many cases.

“It’s not the way anybody wanted to see him go out, but you know what, he gave it good run,” Kischak said.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.