Carmen Legato loves golf, though he admits he’s not very good at the game.
So when Legato opened a barber shop in Tequesta in 1988, he called it “Carmen’s Fairway Haircutting.”
“There are so many golfers around here, I thought that name would attract customers,” Legato said. “The fairway is the best place on the golf course.”
Legato, 72, has been a barber almost 50 years, getting his start in Stamford, Conn., working with his older brother, Jerry.
However, when Legato started having heart problems, he moved to Florida in 1987 for “the golf, the sun and to get out of the cold weather.”
“I moved to Tequesta because friends who wintered there said it didn’t have a decent place to get a haircut,” Legato said.
Legato worked briefly at other shops before opening Carmen’s, now the oldest barber shop in Tequesta. Legato installed a putting green in the back for customers to use while they waited.
One of the first barbers Legato hired was Sharon Littlefield, a local barber since 1983. Littlefield became owner of the shop in 2005.
Littlefield, 54, had gone into barbering in 1981 when a boyfriend told her she should make it a career since she enjoyed cutting his hair so much.
“My favorite part of being a barber is talking to the people,” Littlefield said. “You can have some problem in your life and just the right customer walks in to help you solve it. You get a lot of free advice.”
Littlefield supervised a move to the current, smaller Bridge Road location in 1999, when Legato had to take three years off because he needed a heart transplant (while recovering, Legato got a call from George H.W. Bush, whose uncle, Louis Walker, was Legato’s customer).
Legato, who says he feels great 14 years after his transplant, returned work part-time in 2002, and still works on Monday and Friday mornings.
“I enjoy making people happy with good haircuts,” Legato said. “I plan on doing this as long as I can.”
The shop’s other barbers are happy with the work environment.
“Everybody here gets along,” said Margaret Yoerkie, an employee for two years. “The customers and co-workers are very nice.”
Added Christine Chambers, also an employee for two years: “This shop has a good clientele. It’s been open so long and we do good work.”
Said Cheri Haynie, an employee off-and-on for 18 years: “I keep coming back because it’s a great place to work.”
Customers are happy with the consistency of the barbers as well as the short wait times.
“You can usually get in and out,” said John Scotten, of Tequesta, a customer for 15 years. “They take care of you very quickly.”
Added Ken Lever, of Jupiter Island, a customer for six years: “I like the way they cut my hair. It’s very consistent.”
Littlefield is proud of how Carmen’s continues to serve its customers.
“We’re a friendly, neighborhood shop with a clean atmosphere,” Littlefield said. “We look for barbers with a customer service-oriented personality. We take great pride in serving our customers.”
Carmen’s Fairway Haircutting is at 132 Bridge Road in Tequesta.