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Armando’s Barbershop blends nicely into downtown Marriott’s ritzy renovation

December 4, 2018

Armando’s Barbershop blends nicely into downtown Marriott’s ritzy renovation

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Growing up in Florence, Italy, Armando Hasani liked hanging out in barbershops, enjoying guy conversations and paying close attention to barbers’ techniques.

“There would be three, four or five guys waiting around and talking about all kinds of things, and I loved their camaraderie,” Hasani remembers. “I started cutting hair when I was 13 as a hobby because I liked it so much. I was fascinated by the barbers’ skills, so I began practicing on friends and family. It was a way for me to be creative and connect with people.”

These days, Hasani, now 30, is a professional barber, working his craft in his swanky new Armando’s Barbershop in the lobby of the renovated Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center.

“We’re different than most walk-in barbershops,” Hasani said. “It’s more high-end and contemporary. I was inspired by shops in Tuscany, and I wanted to bring specific design elements together.”

Armando’s offers traditional barbershop services, namely straight-razor shaves, classic scissor cuts, tapers and fades. Manicures for men? Absolutely, when guys who, for professional or other reasons, want to look sharp as a tack right down to their fingertips. A little too much gray going on? Five-to-ten minute color treatments will take care of that.

Last year, Millenia Companies purchased Key Tower, at 127 Public Square, which included the Marriott, and transformed the cavernous lobby into a ritzy, comfortable space that blends the old and the new - traditional warm wood and dark, rich leather seating with clean, contemporary lines.

Armando’s was designed by the firm K2M Design, Inc., a local firm that was responsible for the Marriott Key renovation.

“The barbershop nicely complements the hotels new look and atmosphere,” said Valene Loar Tabone, lead senior designer at K2M Design, Inc.

The expansive glass entry allows passersby a sweeping view of the shop.

“We wanted the space to be welcoming as customers approach,” Tabone said. “Inside, the look is old world glamour grounded with masculine elements like polished chrome and dark, rich leather chairs.”

The color palette is contrasting black and gold. The floor mimics worn, weather wood, but actually is porcelain tile with unexpected flecks of metallic.

Reflective black gloss subway tile material accents the wet bar, where there is, of course, an espresso-maker for customers. Custom espresso-stained cabinetry with polished gold hardware, custom-crafted mirrors and gold wall sconces with a pleated shade are at each chair station.

Hasani was born in Albania, but his family moved to Florence when he was about seven. Romance brought him to Cleveland. He met his wife, Abigail, in Sienna, Italy when she, a student of Oberlin College, was studying there. After long-distance dating, Hasani moved to Cleveland in 2011. The couple married in Florence three years ago.

After having had various careers, including designing for a leather company in Italy, once in Cleveland, Hasani decided to take up barbering professionally, studied at La Barberia in Little Italy and subsequently worked at a salon at Eton Chagrin Boulevard in Woodmere. A customer and friend, Sonny Gorushanovich, is Millenia’s Director of Operations.

“Armando is passionate about his work,” Gorushanovich said. “His hot shaves are the best. His shop is nice and elegant, and maybe even a little sexy. I love the upscale, European feel.”

This seems to be a optimum time for Hasani to land downtown Cleveland. According to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, more than 1,700 units have been added since 2011, and more than 2,300 new apartments will be on the market by the end of this year. The addition will increase the downtown population to more than 18,000 by the end of this year.

“If it were three or four years ago, I don’t know if I would have moved downtown,” said Hasani, adding that some of his customers lived downtown and traveled to Woodmere for his grooming. “But now with all of the young professionals living down here, it just makes it more convenient for them.”

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