A gentlemen’s club

Anton Cura is bringing back the golden age of the neighborhood barbershop.

By Christine Lunde

WORKING ITS WAY into the local fabric, Attention to Detail Barber Gallery on Sutter Street may soon rival sports bars as the hippest place for men to fraternize. Flat screen TVs broadcasting sports and news, generous servings of beer and champagne — and, of course, stylish cuts and shaves — make the shop at 2180 Sutter a convenient congregating place for clients of all ages.

On one recent afternoon, owner Anton Cura saw his youngest client, a 3-year-old blonde boy, walk by. He waved. A group of women pushing strollers yelled into the shop for stylist Ken El-Armin and he dashed out to say hello. The clientele is mostly male, and on this particular day friends are waiting, browsing through magazines, watching television and joining the conversation. The space is sleek and open, yet intimate enough to encourage conversation.

Cura is bringing back the golden age of the neighborhood barbershop. But Attention to Detail, which opened last year, is the spruced-up post-dot-com version. It doesn’t look like a traditional barbershop because it’s not; it’s a hybrid between a place to get a haircut and a high-end salon.

“I had to think progressively and with the times — where everything in San Francisco is going,” says Cura. “ATD is new and something progressive, and suitable to the audience here.”

ATD is a one-stop shop where clients can come to get ready for a date, meeting or business trip. After a precision cut and shave, they can have their shirts pressed, call a car service and even buy one of Cura’s pocket squares or ties if they don’t have time to run home. The black floors, chandeliers and leather chairs give off the modern aesthetic Cura says he derives from his own life and travels.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to bottle up my lifestyle and share it with my consumers,” he says.

Too many times during his travels, he says, he’s seen uncomfortable-looking men in salons who settle for a cut by someone who doesn’t know how to use clippers and he’s witnessed stylists who have no dialogue with their clients. He believes a barbershop should be like a gentlemen’s club, which is what he’s bringing to San Francisco.

In addition to Cura, there are three other stylists on staff — Ken El-Armin, Armando Martinez and Brandon Dorsch, who he says all have the skills and professional experience to deliver the service his clients covet.

Cura grew up around the hair styling business; his mother is a retired beautician. But he says that unlike a lot of the guys in the business, he wasn’t the one in high school who gave the football team haircuts. He grew up going to barbershops and enjoyed the experience of sitting in a chair and getting pampered.

“It’s all about the experience. I don’t believe in a haircut being a tax, or little kids dreading getting their hair cut,” he says. “Getting your hair cut is a luxury and you should look forward to going, to hanging out with the guys.”

Celebrity clients are not out of the ordinary at his shop. A Dodgers fan who’s particularly boastful rolled up one day during spring season with an L.A. sticker proudly affixed on his car while Giants pitcher Sergio Romo was getting his hair cut. The fan, who usually makes his presence known, sat down across from Romo without uttering a peep. The stylists played into it, asking about the game, to his chagrin. Nothing is out of the realm of conversation here: politics, sports, women, business.

Attention to Detail stylist Brandon Dorsch specializes in men’s cuts, but previously styled women’s hair. “My friends always ask me whose hair is harder to cut, men’s or women’s,” Dorsch says. “If you give a woman a good blow out they’re happy. But guys, they’re hard. They’re like ‘Ooh, can you carve that out?’ ”

A month ago, Cura put up a barber pole to mark the shop’s spot on Sutter. Business has picked up and people see the red and white stripes as an invitation to drop in.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I opened a year and a half ago,” he says. “I knew this was a good location in terms of my target consumer, but I didn’t know how receptive the community would be. They’ve been great. I love what’s happening over here. It makes me feel good.”

Attention To Detail is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursday until 8. For appointments, call 932-6904.

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