Business

After 75 years in business, Mike’s Barber Shop remains a Morro Bay fixture

Jon Elliott, the owner of Mike’s Barber Shop in Morro Bay. The shop first opened on Dec. 6, 1941.
Jon Elliott, the owner of Mike’s Barber Shop in Morro Bay. The shop first opened on Dec. 6, 1941. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Locals and visitors wanting a glimpse of Morro Bay history can find it at Mike’s Barber Shop, where the faded pictures, two vintage barber chairs and old-time cash register give patrons the feeling they’ve stepped straight into the past.

When Highway 1 was built, it would bring motorists through downtown Morro Bay and right by the barber shop at 280 Morro Bay Blvd. Celebrities from Los Angeles on their way to Hearst Castle would often stop in to get a quick shave and a haircut before continuing on their adventure.

One of the Central Coast’s longest continually operating businesses, Mike’s Barber Shop was founded by Lendyl Johnson, who opened it as Lendyl’s Barber Shop one day before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Since then, the shop has changed ownership only twice. In the early 1960s, Johnson sold the business to his loyal employee, Mike Dominguez, who gave the shop its current name and worked there for 52 years until he retired in 2012.

Dominguez won the Living Treasure Award from the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce in 2012 for continued dedication to his community and craft.

Ownership was then passed on to Jon Elliott, who shared in Dominguez’s commitment to learning and respecting one of the world’s oldest professions.

Known locally as “Barber Jon,” Elliott grew up in Davis and moved to Morro Bay when a poor economy forced him to leave his carpet-cleaning business in Las Vegas. Sure that barbering was his true calling, Elliott began working for Dominguez about 10 years ago and never looked back.

“I just love cutting hair,” Elliott said. “To me, it’s a passion.”

Mike’s is not only a fixture in the community, it’s a place where the skill of barbering is appreciated and the full array of traditional services is still offered. Mike’s employee turnover rate is almost immeasurable and puts the big chains to shame, Elliott said.

“Those places aren’t shaving around the ears, and they’re not doing the true barber thing,” Elliott said. “People come here and see the same faces every time. Every barber I’ve hired has stuck with me.”

In recent years, Elliott has opened two other locations and now employs seven barbers: Tiny Mike’s opened in 2015 at 2300 N. Main St. in Morro Bay and, on Dec. 6, a new shop opened at 1033 Chorro St. in San Luis Obispo. A regular men’s haircut costs $20 at the shops in Morro Bay and $25 at the shop in San Luis Obispo; if you want a beard trim or a scissor-only cut, it will cost $6 more; a deluxe ear-to-ear shave with a hot towel and aftershave costs $40.

There is no big secret to the shop’s success, Elliott said, just quality haircuts and shaves, and a willingness to learn and adapt. He also has committed the shop to going green by composting hair, directing its wastewater into the garden next to the shop and installing solar panels on the roof.

The shop will face new challenges in coming years, Elliott said, but for the foreseeable future he intends to continue operating Mike’s Barber Shop and carry on a legacy 75 years in the making.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct prices for a haircut, shave and a beard trim and scissor-only cut.

Biz Buzz. Email: bizbuzz@thetribunenews.com; on Twitter @SLOBizBuzz; phone: 805-781-7902; fax: 805-781-7905; mail: Biz Buzz, The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-0112.

Robert Shutt: 805-781-7902, @roshu42

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