Meet Your BOK Winner: Frank Gambuzza of Frank's Barbershop

Winner: Best New Business

What does it mean to you to win Best of Knoxville?

It shows that we are still appreciated on a local level after striving for international recognition. I've got 42 years of experience in this business. I feel like the public recognizes our focus and the goals we have been trying to attain.

How did you make Frank's Barbershop a success so quickly?

Well the timing of our brand was received with open arms by the Knoxville community. Also our major city concepts were new to the area, and we already had brand recognition and a strong, trusting client base from Salon Visage.

How do you balance the feeling of a modern business with old-style techniques?

Well old-school barbering is the second oldest profession (we all know what the first one is), and the barber pole is the most recognized symbol internationally. I feel like the average guy is still a caveman at heart and knows that going to the barber is more like a ritual. It's also very psychological. I know few men that don't have an early childhood memory of their father or grandfather taking them to the town barber. At Frank's you feel like one of the boys again. It hits you on an emotional level and creates a lasting memory. Also, the cool Joe, who is stylish and trendy might go to a salon. At Frank's the regular Joe can come in with no anxieties about a salon experience, and still receive a great haircut and more. Basically, with pool tables and ESPN, we are an old-style barber shop that will over-deliver on the quality of your usual haircut in a much more comfortable atmosphere.

What inspiration did you have for creating the shop's relaxing atmosphere?

I can't take any credit. I mimicked where I worked growing up. It was a place called J. Vito's Continental Barber Shop in West New York, New Jersey. I was a shoe shine boy at age 11 and eventually learned the ropes and worked there cutting hair.

What kind of services does Frank's offer men?

You don't just get a clean cut haircut at Frank's. We clean you up from the neck up, including ears, nose, and eye brows. We also offer straight razor shaves, and men's waxing. That's kind of where the old meets the new.

Why do you think Knoxvillians voted it best new business?

I think because we are so family oriented, it's affordable, and our services and atmosphere are higher in value than the price you pay.

I've heard Frank's also won a national award.

Yeah, we won a national award and I didn't even know we were in the running at first. I got a text from a friend in Seattle saying congratulations on being a finalist. I replied, "A finalist in what?" Apparently we were one of four finalists, with the other cities being Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. It was a New York Times-based company [] presenting the national award, picking the winner based on a couple of percentage-based categories. When I heard Internet voting was involved, I really didn't think we had a chance based on the sizes of the other cities. Then, one of the companies (I think in San Francisco) was quoted saying how embarrassing it would be to lose to a hillbilly town in Tennessee. After that, the Internet voting in Knoxville became viral. I couldn't believe the support that Knoxville gave us, but we ended up winning America's Best Barber Shop. I guess when you have a great city of people behind you, and you strive to be the best in the world, you can at least be best in the country.