Where Art Meets Hair
ASBURY PARK, N.J. — Asbury has been called the “city by the sea” and one of the top ten tourist destinations in the country, one of the best beaches in the state. A place where you want to come and enjoy the sights and sounds of revitalization, the new golden age of a beautiful, historic Jersey Shore town.
Like the phoenix that rose from the ashes, Asbury is alive and thriving. Long gone are the boarded-up, abandoned buildings and empty stretches of nothing.
Today if you take a stroll down Cookman Ave you will be greeted by an eclectic mix of eateries, coffee houses, the vintage record and clothing stores. Hip, cool and totally Asbury Park.
One such place, hip and absolutely Asbury, located in the 700 block of Cookman, just past Main Street is Larry Cadillac, a salon for men and women. You’ll know it by the very cool neon sign in the front window. It’s a place for great hairstyles, precision barbering, some very cool hair products and a welcoming vibe with great conversation. It’s a place where art meets hair.
The concept for Larry Cadillac has been in the mind of owner Lawrence Matarese for many years. Originally planned for Red Bank, he felt it was not the right demographic and that the vibe there was lacking.
“I've had a presence in Asbury Park for about 10 years with my antique shop Asbury Archaeology, located at the Antique Emporium on Cookman Avenue. I started noticing the town changing, more year-round people living and visiting the town.” Matarese said.
He decided then and there to open his new salon in Asbury. He had his eye on a unique space on Cookman Ave. for many years. There were zoning issues he had to battle and that space needed a complete demolition for his vision to become a reality. But a reality it did become.
Take a walk in the salon and you will feel the old-school, throwback charm and very artsy vibe that is Larry Cadillac.
“Many years ago I had a salon in NYC's East Village and I wanted to recreate the same feeling. It's a mix of old-school barbershop meets new school salon, graffiti art, and hip-hop music,” he added.
The unique logo that is now emblazoned in neon in the front window was drawn by his son Philip as a Father's Day gift many years ago. When Matarese saw it he thought the design had captured his essence. He also realized that design would make a great logo. His talented son has since gone on to create and animate a series for HBO called Animals and the design now represents Larry Cadillac to the world.
He thought that one day he would name a salon Larry Cadillac and the rest is history as they say.
So where did the cool name come from?
The moniker, Larry Cadillac was coined over 40 years ago by a fellow hairdresser he worked with on Madison Avenue. He started calling Matarese that name and it kind of just stuck.
Twenty years ago when Matarese and his wife started visiting Asbury, Cookman Ave. was all boarded up, the streets were empty, long gone were the amusement rides, the carousel and the department stores and the tourists.
Like everything in life, changes began to happen, little by little shops and cafes started popping up and Cookman was once again a thriving, bustling street full of sights and sounds that have thrilled residents and brought back the tourists.
Asbury has a vibe unlike any other city in New Jersey or perhaps anywhere.
“My wife and I started coming to Asbury Park to shop the wonderful vintage clothing scene like Allan & Suzie's and other great shops. Always being an antique collector there were always great antique and Mid-Century stores. I started noticing a slight change in the town.” he said.
“It was similar to the explosive change I felt living and working in the East Village in the 1980's. It was electric. The eclectic mix of peoples and cultures is what makes Asbury great!” he added.
His business philosophy has been the same since he opened his first salon in 1982, be a true professional, give the best possible service, keep current with the latest trends and, first and foremost having the best styling team you can assemble.
“I've prided myself on a diverse workforce and always encouraged individuality and creative expression. In addition to Larry Cadillac, I own a large salon and spa in Manalapan. I have about 25 employees there. It is full service with 15 hairdressers, two colorists, and a private manicure and pedicure area that also features facials and massages.” Matarese said.
As much as he loves working in Manalapan he felt he needed a creative outlet to merge his passion for doing hair and his love of collecting graffiti art. He added that Larry Cadillac is a salon and mini gallery. “I always say, Where Art Meets Hair!"
One of the things we like about Larry Cadillac is that they are a socially responsible company. They have sponsored many fund-raising events at both salons.
Since the shop opened in Asbury Park they have done a “Cuts for Cats” fundraiser for Catsbury Park that was a huge success. The entire staff at Larry Cadillac is behind the socially responsible efforts. In December they held a Coat Drive that will benefit the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission.
“People were so generous we lost count! In October we do Pink Hair for Hope. We put a pink hair strand in your hair to show your support to fight cancer and we donate the $10 price to cancer research.” Matarese said.
In the Manalapan shop at Christmas time, they sponsor Toys for Tots, and Gifts and Sundries for a local woman's shelter for families in crisis, they sponsor clothing and food drives for the less fortunate.
“I have always felt a need give back to my community. I came from a humble upbringing but we were always conscious of those less fortunate. Asbury Park is a true tale of two cities. One must help the other for both to survive!” he said.
His salons have raised thousands of dollars over the years. Matarese personally knows the struggles that cancer patients go through having had cancer in his family, and in his own life. In November they sponsor a fundraiser for Alzheimer's Research.
Matarese can’t do it alone. He will be the first to tell you that he has a very talented staff at the shop.
“My manager is Alex, a young man I trained originally for the Manalapan salon but he was drawn to the barbering end of the business. I shared with him my vision for Larry Cadillac and he was on board from day one,” he said.
A trained Paul Mitchell stylist, Alex has merged all of his training to become the barber he is today. He lives in Asbury and loves the vibe the shop brings to town.
The rest of the teams are comprised of staff members from the Manalapan salon that wanted to spread their wings and explore their more creative side. There are also staff members that are solely employed at the Asbury location.
Young, hip and vibrant is the only way to describe them. They do not want to be labeled a Barber Shop or a Hair Salon.
"We are a wonderful breed” to quote Vidal Sassoon. “We work one-on-one with another human being and the object is to make them feel so much better and to look at themselves with a twinkle in their eye. The staff is inclusive and open-minded and all are welcome to the shop,” he added.
Most clients will say how welcomed and comfortable they feel. It’s the kind of place that everyone can just be themselves and look fantastic when they leave.
“I want to thank Asbury Park for welcoming us with such open arms. We've tried to make the town proud by adding a certain something else to the mix. Being at the base of Cookman, I feel our 700 block is the welcome to the tapestry that is Asbury Park...”
For more information about Larry Cadillac, you can visit their website larrycadillac.com or call 732-455-5898.
We recommend stopping by, you’ll love the atmosphere and the staff. They are located at 725 Cookman Avenue in beautiful downtown Asbury Park.
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