Bubba is the nickname of Luca, son of Alex Bernal, owner of Bubba’s Barber Shop at 4222 Voltaire St. Bubba’s opened right after the first of the year in a retail space once a bike shop.
Bernal’s business partners are Cody Carpenter and Sergio Pelayo. They all went to barber college together on Fifth Avenue downtown. Cody was working at a shop in Pacific Beach. Sergio was working in a shop in Imperial Beach.
“I was cutting hair out of my garage for the last three years,” said Bernal, who lives in Sunset Cliffs. But he quickly outgrew his garage.
“It was time,” Bernal said. “I saved up enough money, sold all my toys, including the motorhome and everything else, and put it all into this.”
Bernal got Carpenter and Pelayo to join him and the trio committed to pooling their resources and finding a brick-and-mortar spot in the Peninsula.
“It’s our shop. It’s convenient,” said Bernal of their new place. “It’s real personal, neighborhoody. Fathers and sons come in and get their hair cut at the same time. We’re trying to accommodate the neighborhood. We’re trying to build a camaraderie.”
Added Bernal, “We’re just a traditional, classic barber shop. We use a straight razor, hot towels, hot water, etc. With the skill levels in here, we can pretty much do everything, including head shaves.”
Some of the trio’s old clients have followed them to their new place.
Bubba’s is open, light and airy. There is a TV on the wall, and complementary soft drinks and beers in the fridge, for guests.
“We charge $20 for a haircut,” said Bernal, a native San Diegan whose grandparents immigrated to the beachfront from Italy.
“It’s been great so far. The location’s great,” said Bernal of business. “The tips have been great, and the reviews.”
What’s it like being a barber?
“You have to be a psychology major sometimes,” quipped Bernal, who used to be a tile contractor and was a stay-at-home dad for nine years. He added lots of clients just appreciate a good conversation, and leave happy once they’ve gotten one.
“Being a barber is definitely social,” continued Bernal, pointing out, “When the economy is real bad, you’re still in business. You have to get your hair cut. We’re not going to be the richest people in the neighborhood. But we’ll always be busy, always have something to do. We’re trying to provide for people.”
A barber also needs to a hair consultant.
Said Bernal: “You have to teach them what’s going to look good on them. You’ve gotta be a consultant by de fault. Tons and tons of people come in and say, ‘I don’t know what I want. What do you think would look good on me?’ You’re a life consultant in certain parts too. You have to help people deal with their life problems sometimes. They want to talk it out in the chair.”
“My favorite part of being a barber and cutting hair is that you have the ability to make someone feel better about themselves,” said Carpenter. “And they leave feeling on top of the world.”
Bubba’s Barber Shop
4222 Voltaire St.
Hours: Wednesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.