Cudahy’s former Sullivan’s transformed into a retro barber shop

Since 1934, people could often be seen coming out of Sullivan’s smoking room in Cudahy with a cigar in their mouths.

This can still happen today, but only if a customer of the new Sullivan’s Barbershop orders the “Gentlemen’s Pack”, which comes with a free cigar (not sold by the store and restricted to those 21 or older).

Owners Christopher and Lauran Ripstein said they chose to gift the package, which includes a haircut, scalp massage, beard trim (if needed) and facial razor shave, to honor the story. of the building.

Joe and Mary Salvatore built the store at 4714 S. Packard Ave. for shoe shine, hat blocking and smoking supplies, according to the Ripsteins. The original owners named the store Sullivan’s because at the time an Italian surname could hinder success, said Christopher Ripstein. The new owners have chosen to keep the name and the classic sign on the front, which will eventually be illuminated again.

“Their dreams and ambitions were tied to that name,” said Christopher Ripstein.

Sullivan's Barbershop opened April 1 in Cudahy at 4714 S. Packard Ave.

Before forging his way to success, Lauran Ripstein was a personal trainer. An attraction to the art of straight razor shaving led her to carve out a new career. She’s the only hairdresser at Sullivan’s right now.

Trained in the traditional Florida barber and cosmetology style, Lauran Ripstein said she prefers the old, much more scissor-centric way of doing things to the new “urban barber” style. After thousands of hours of training, she started cutting her hair about ten years ago.

“I go the extra mile to make sure all the details you want are there,” she said. “You can stay in my chair until every hair is in the right place.”

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All the chairs at Sullivan are antiques; one was from the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Customers can expect to get a haircut in 30 to 40 minutes compared to the typical 20-minute service at most establishments, she said.

Lauran Ripstein said she wanted to create “the old atmosphere of open community”.

After working for a few “corporate” hair salons “focused more on profit than on the customer”, Lauran Ripstein decided to branch out and develop her own hair business at the behest of her husband. She wanted a place that would complement her traditional style.

Christopher Ripstein, who works for Harley Davidson, said a friend who is “fifth-generation Cudahy” introduced them to the building they now call home – in this case literally, as the couple live in an apartment at the above their business.

“It was a really cool place that had been empty for years,” said Christopher Ripstein.

Six months of negotiations later and they were owners. It was three years ago.

While the foundations were solid, the building needed a lot of work, and the couple did most of the renovations themselves. Some things, like a plumbing system and all new electrical wiring, were done by professionals.

“Every aspect of the build was done with heritage in mind,” said Christopher Ripstein.

A jukebox helps set the mood at Sullivan's Barber Shop in Cudahy.

Sifting through the remains of rubble inside, the couple unearthed an 1800s cash register that now sits in the shop atop a custom counter built by Christopher Ripstein. All counters in the establishment were created with wood from a former bowling alley in Missouri.

“Only one lane was created (all counters),” he said.

Many other unique finds are on display in the shop, including a large pipe that was part of an advertisement the Ripsteins “smoked” by installing a diffuser, and an old jukebox that looks authentic but doesn’t work. Instead of fixing it, the couple installed a Bluetooth speaker inside allowing more than the typical number of records to play.

In the future, the couple hope to hire additional barbers and staff, but they aren’t quite ready for that yet.

They are ready to give clipper or scissor cuts, beard trims, head and/or face shaves, waxes, trims and more, by appointment, on their website www.

They are also ready to hear more stories from their customers about the history and happenings at Sullivan’s, including stories about the famous poker games that once took place in the back.

Contact Erik S. Hanley at [email protected] Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter at @ES_Hanley.

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