Paco’s Barber Shop closes for business after 57 years of haircuts, building memories

On Saturday at 3 p.m. a single door closed at 633 Foothill Blvd., marking the end of a La Cañada institution beloved by many for nearly six decades — Paco’s Barber Shop is no more.

Frank “Paco” Ruiz, who lives in Highland Park, opened for business in 1960, first occupying a storefront on the east end of town and later moving to Plaza de La Cañada where he trimmed the heads of local residents who would later bring their children, then their grandchildren, in for a cut and a treat from the store’s signature tin treasure chest.

In 2015, at age 82, he announced his plans to retire, so he could spend more time and travel with wife Mary Lou, play golf and enjoy his golden years. He’d hoped another barber would take over the lease and keep the employees and equipment in place. But when plans failed to materialize, Ruiz decided Saturday would be his last.

On the list of loyal customers, Dan Barba and Jim Yundt’s names are near the top. Barba, 72, came for his first cut at age 15 and remained a regular until his last cut Saturday.

“The only time he didn’t cut my hair was the three years I spent in the Army,” the Arcadia resident said. “He’s kind of like family.”

Yundt, 74, who still lives in La Cañada, was honored to be Ruiz’s last client. The old friends laughed and reminisced as shorn hair flew and friends and well-wishers looked on with sadness. Yundt had come in every three weeks since he was 17, except when he was enrolled at Arizona State University and wore his hair long.

“About two months ago, [Frank] brought out his appointment book and said, ‘What are you doing on Nov. 18? I want you to be my last haircut,’” Yundt said. “It’s a real honor, given how long he’s been here and the things he’s done for the community. He’s a great barber — I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do now.”

In addition to sponsoring youth baseball teams for decades, Ruiz was a longtime member of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, he led the Memorial Weekend Fiesta Days Parade as grand marshal.

On Saturday, he was joined by Mary Lou, nieces Veda Flores and Kathleen Castillo of Santa Maria and nephew Manny Alvarez, who drove over 400 miles from Yuba City for the occasion. With the door sign flipped to “closed” for the last time, the barber admitted having very deep feelings.

“It’s been really very rewarding,” he said of the support he’s gotten from the La Cañada community over the years. “I’m looking forward to still running into these beautiful people somewhere along the line.”

Twitter: @SaraCardine

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