WATERLOO — Men’s barber shops have always doubled as social gathering spaces, places where dads, sons, uncles and brothers pop in for a tight cut and loose conversation.
Elk Run Heights native Jordan Finger and his business partner, Chris Krause, are on a mission to preserve the tradition, and even up the ante a bit, offering cuts, conversation and cold brew.
The pair recently opened Five Seasons Hair and Beard Studio in Cedar Rapids and formed a partnership with Iowa Brewing Co. to serve beer straight from the keg to their clients during shaves and haircuts.
“We’re pretty excited about it, and the clients love it so far,” Krause said.
So excited, in fact, Krause and Finger are looking to open a barber shop in downtown Waterloo early next year, with a plan to partner with SingleSpeed Brewing Co. Finger said they are looking at a location near Newton’s Cafe.
“We want to keep it local,” Finger said of the potential SingleSpeed partnership. “And I’m really excited to come back home and cut some hair.”
Finger, 23, lives in Cedar Rapids but grew up in Elk Run Heights. He attended East High School and is a graduate of College of Hair Design in downtown Waterloo, which has since moved to Cedar Falls.
Finger began his career working with Krause at the Men’s Room Hair and Beard Parlor in Cedar Rapids.
“He got me straight out of school,” Finger said. “We moved to our new (Cedar Rapids) location May 1. I helped him build Five Seasons. We started in the Lindale Mall with six chairs. Now we have eight barbers. Things have been really good. Being a new shop and keeping eight barbers, we are keeping it busy.”
Along with the new brew partnership, Finger credits the success of Five Seasons to its diverse staff.
“To us, it means a lot that our business represents all of our community,” he said, noting they’ll aim for that same diversity in the Waterloo location.
Krause said the Cedar Rapids studio receives a keg containing a new flavor from the Cedar Rapids-based brewery each week.
So far, the practice has been very popular with customers.
“People really enjoy being able to pour their own beer,” Krause said.
Krause first implemented the idea at his first barbershop, Men’s Room Hair and Beard Parlor in Cedar Rapids. There, Krause and the 10 barbers at that location would chip in $10 to $15 each to fill a cooler full of beer every Friday.
“We just did it one day on a whim,” Krause said. “It was a huge hit, so much so that it started to become a part of our brand.”
However, Krause said he wanted to bring in beer from a local brewery for his newest location.
“I thought it would be really cool, since we pride ourselves on being locally owned and operated,” he said. “For me, it was an opportunity to help and try to promote a local brand that I was a big fan of.”
In Iowa, establishments that serve alcohol must have a liquor license, a beer permit or a wine permit, according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.
“We have to be careful not letting someone who’s not of age pour themselves a beer, but so far it hasn’t been an issue,” Krause said. “That’s really the only concern. Outside of that, it’s been a total home run.”
Finger said the brewery partnership has been a win-win for the barbershop and the brewing company.
“We get good business because we offer the beer, and they’ve been getting a lot of our clientele who come in for a cut and like the beer and go get beers from (Iowa Brewing Co.) It’s a benefit on both sides.”