With a vision of owning a business that becomes “a staple of the community,” Batavian Zach Watts is in the process of converting a vacant Downtown store into the My Cut barber shop.
“This is a dream of mine,” said Watts, 36, who has spent the past two decades interacting with area residents as a restaurant server/manager, including the last 15 years as Victor Marchese’s “right hand man” at Main Street Pizza. “Now that I have the chance, I want to put my best foot forward into this, and give it everything I got.”
Watts said that he and a minority owner will be leasing nearly 900 square feet of space at the site of the former Pollyanna & Dot/Hidden Door at 202 Main St. The building is owned by David Howe, co-owner of the neighboring Charles Men’s Shop.
Howe said he sees the barber shop as a great fit.
“We’re (he and business partner Don Brown) are really excited about it,” Howe said. “I think it’s a perfect mix for Downtown, not that we don’t have good barbers in town, because we do, but I think the location and Main Street work very well. For us, it’s a nice addition to the building – being near our business, and also down the street from our other business, Batavia Bootery.”
Watts said he is looking for experienced barbers and hairstylists to rent a chair and get the business off the ground while he completes the training required to earn his license. The custom workstation being built by craftsman Conrado Caballero, of Le Roy, will accommodate four professionals.
“The opportunity to get this space was the determining factor of whether I was going to do this or not,” Watts said. “This location is prime. I’m kind of putting the cart before the horse here, and jumping into it without having the necessary education to be, quote, unquote, licensed. I still need to receive that certification.”
In the meantime, his goal is to attract men or women barbers/stylists who are “willing to learn and willing to teach, too.”
“We’re seeking people who want an opportunity to be part of something that hopefully will last forever. But for me, I’m looking for someone to come in – for the first six months – and make a name for themselves. Take walk-ins, take a lot of calls, and be put in a position where they can have the whole shop to themselves without the liability of owning the shop.”
Watts said he will continue to work at Main Street Pizza while going to school, which will cover about four and a half months.
“I realize it will be a balancing act – having a job and taking care of my kids – but it will be worth it,” he said. “I know it is a tough time to be starting a business – it’s a tough time to be alive, really, with all the uncertainty – but one thing I’ve learned is the only thing you can control is your effort … and hopefully you reap the benefits from it.”
Watts has two children, Jaslynne, 13, and Carson, 8, and a significant other, Haley Brown, of Elba.
Based on his employment history, putting forth the effort won’t be a problem for Watts.
“Things have been up and down but I’ve always worked, starting in the restaurant business when I was 14 (at Sunny’s Restaurant),” he said. “I was just blessed with an opportunity for somebody to give me work, and I’ve stayed in the restaurant business for a while – working at Alex’s Place for a few years before getting a huge break to get into Main Street Pizza on the ground level when Vic opened up.”
He gives much credit to Marchese for “putting me in this position” and his mother, Annie Watts, a longtime and well-known restaurant server, for his work ethic.
“Victor has done everything for me to get me into a position to succeed. He’s shown me what it is like to open a business, and to have it be sustainable and be successful,” Watts offered. “I’ve had the privilege of watching him for a long time and have seen him make some great decisions. He’s my mentor; he’s my guy.”
He said his mother is “one of the hardest working people I know and she taught us (he and brother, Nick Gaudy, who also works at Main Street Pizza) what it means to work,” he said. “Without that, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Watts said he wants his shop to establish its own personality -- a place that is inviting with a menu of offerings such as contemporary cuts for men and boys (and shorter cuts for women), as well as straight shaves and hot shaves. He is hoping to open around Sept. 1.
“This is Christmastime coming up, plus school cuts, and a lot of people, teachers, are starting work now, and they all want to look good,” he said. “And if you look good, you feel good. I want the community to take advantage of a different style that has become more popular with younger people, something that is missing in this town.”
Watts said he is hoping to find barbers/stylists who are “very technical with their styling.”
“A lot of the trends with the younger generation are about designs in their hair; they want their hair styled in a certain way,” he said. “We’re trying to develop a barber shop that becomes a staple in this community, and given its location and the incredible businesses surrounding it that have been here, we feel we have an excellent chance to succeed.”
He also thanked Howe for being “incredibly supportive … and giving me a couple months to get my feet on the ground and run with something.”
Howe said he believes in Watts’ business model and looks forward to working with him.
“I think he has a good game plan, and there are so many things that we can do together,” Howe said. “We do a lot of wedding parties, and just that mix, I think, can be really good. People get spruced up in their tuxedos and suits and suit rentals and that type of thing, and good grooming goes right along with that.”
Photo by Mike Pettinella.
For more information about My Cut, contact Watts at (585) 201-1335.