The last time we caught up with Jose Souto, he and his wife were working aboard the Nenis food truck, the blue one, frequently seen around Marathon. The food truck has since changed hands, although his wife Eylen is still making lunch for the hungry Middle Keys tribe.
Souto, though, has switched gears and returned to his former profession — that of barber. In Cuba, he spent years as a barber — “barbero” in Spanish — and his newly issued Florida license means the folks of the Middle Keys have talented, efficient, affordable hair care for men. His new shop is in the Ivan Tile complex located at 64th Street.
“My wife won’t let me cut her hair, but I would like to learn,” he said. “I cut my own hair by holding up a mirror so I can see the back of my head,” he said, in Spanish.
The Spanish-English barrier is overcome by the universal language of hair. Holding up a pair of clippers he asks, “Number two or number three?” Or, when referring to the back of his customer’s head, “Rounded or square?”
He says he gets a lot of “Americanos” in the business and he is grateful for every single one.
“Many Cubans come to the United States and are homesick. Not me. This is my dream. I am a very grateful person,” he said.
Souto and his wife have lived in the Keys for seven years, coming straight to the islands after arriving from Cuba. Recently, they took their citizenship tests and he was proud to share how he studied U.S. history.
Souto’s Barber Shop offers the standard haircuts and beard trims, and he’s open to providing the hot towel shave should the need arise. And Souto wields the straight razor like it’s an extension of his own fingers.
The shop has two chairs. Souto said that as business picks up, he hopes to hire another barber. “But it has to be the right person, someone who respects customer service.”
The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., although he says he will stay open longer if there are customers. The busiest days are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday. “There is no closed door,” he said. The telephone number is 305-755-2892.