For the love of all that is delicious: An interview with a cook

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Joey Taylor in all of his glory. Yes, the bottom part of his pants are on his arms. He doesn’t exactly possess a lot of professional pictures.

It pays to love a cook, especially when all you know how to make is canned soup, spaghetti and hamburgers (kind of).

During the two and a half years that my fiancé Joey and I have been together, he’s always had a knack for creating tasty home dishes. He’s taught me several little tricks to making the simplest of meals a delicious treat. I never would have thought to add vegetables, egg and various spices to ramen without him showing me first.

I’ve watched him go from working fast-food, to serving, to dish-washing to holding a position as a line cook. I’ve watched him return to school to pursue a degree in biblical studies, theology being one of his passions, but it wasn’t until he began cooking for a living that he discovered his true calling (besides being a devout Christian and a great future husband).

The restaurant industry is challenging, and line cooks are certainly not excluded from this truth. It can be difficult, stressful and strenuous work, but it can also be incredibly satisfying.

After working for just shy of two years at the Marietta Brewing Company in Marietta, Ohio, otherwise known as “the brewery” to locals, Joey moved an hour away to live closer to me while I went to school and got a job that would inevitably further his cooking experience and food expertise.

He was hired at Sol Restaurant in Athens, Ohio as a line cook and just after a few months of working there is the lead cook during the dinner hours. His excitement about learning how to make new dishes and foods is strikingly apparent and often carries over into his off-time (he made a killer sauce for Thanksgiving that was very similar to Sol’s “Island Sauce”).

As I pursue a career as a journalist, Joey works hard to improve his cooking skills with the goal of one day becoming a chef and opening a restaurant. But enough gushing from me, it’s time to hear from the turd man himself.

Who taught you how to cook?

I was taught by many people throughout my life and continue to be taught by people at every moment along the way. My dad and uncle were great cooks when I was growing up, and my mom has always been an influence in her light and fresh foods.

When I started cooking at the brewery it was Jason Morgan and Nick Farley who poured themselves into me, continually telling me they saw promise in me and that if I applied myself I could go places in the culinary world. I owe the discovery of my love of cooking to these guys first and foremost. I do continue to learn from everyone I can along the way still.

When did you start cooking for yourself?

I started cooking for myself in junior high with after school snacks being simple things like home fries or nachos. Really simple stuff at that point. It wasn’t until I started working in a kitchen that cooking for myself, but mostly for others, took a spin to the more fun endeavors of raspberry glazed fish tacos and steak fondue.

At what point did you realize that you loved cooking?

The moment I started cooking in a restaurant setting. The high paced work, the attention to detail, even the stress and then the end result being a piece of art that every single person in the world appreciates, resonated with my soul immediately and I knew this is what I loved doing.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get fed up at times though. The bureaucracy and politics of the restaurant world are frustrating and a waste of time personally, but that doesn’t mean everyone around you will try to get into them instead of being the best cook they can.

Who would you say is your biggest influence when it comes to cooking?

Influence? The person I’m cooking for is the biggest influence as I will try to cater to what they love. Inspiration? The two guys that introduced me to this world and had my back from the very beginning.

Sol’s Cuban themed menu is quite different from the pub food sold at the brewery. Was the change from the brewery to Sol drastic?

For the most part the menus are incredibly different. I went from cooking pub styled food where over half the menu is heavily breaded and either baked or fried to cooking with tropical fruits and pan seared fish for a good portion of the dishes. I’ve cooked more fish in two months at Sol than I probably cooked in two years at the brewery.

I wouldn’t say the change is drastic though. At the end of the day cooking is cooking is cooking. In the heat of a dinner rush, you aren’t thinking about ingredients used in a specific dish but instead about getting the food cooked to the correct temperature and consistency to make the dish right. So I guess when it comes to prep it’s two different worlds, but when I’m actually cooking, it is exactly the same.

How has working at Sol expanded your culinary knowledge? What are some major lessons that you’ve learned?

The way it’s expanded my culinary knowledge isn’t even in the major lessons. I’ve learned a lot of cool things about Cuban cuisine, mostly in the realm of smoking meat and the ability to incorporate decadently sweet tropical fruits into almost any dish.

The major lessons I’ve learned from Sol though are management abilities. I’ve actually got a team of people cooking underneath me on any given shift now and that’s a little bit daunting. It’s so daunting that I actually fought the idea that I was in charge until I started getting in trouble for not managing the kitchen during a shift.

I started into this field a very short time ago and now I’m in charge of training more people how to cook. The only thing I can hope is that I have the same effect on someone that Jason and Nick had on me.

Have you decided on what type of food will be sold at the restaurant that you’ll one day open?

I really like your everyday American foods. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza and definitely wings are all fun to make, satisfying and people love them. I’m not really decided on a style of food as much as my dream pushes me to find a way to get the freshest ingredients available. If you make a grilled with fresh and natural ingredients, more people will love it than a frozen New York strip from a major food supplier.

What is your ultimate goal?

My ultimate goal is to use my gifts and talents to bring glory to God. Whether that means I keep cooking for the rest of my life or start working in a different field, I want people to know where my allegiance lies. He’s given me this life and my talents and everything I do is for His glory.

Top 5 places to eat before a night out

Are you trying to decide on a place to eat before going out with your friends for your 21st birthday? Maybe you’re going to see a touring Broadway show at Memorial Auditorium but need to find a place to have a quality meal beforehand? With so many wonderful places to eat in Athens, it can be hard to narrow down your choices. No need to worry; I’ve done the research for you! These five eateries, all of which can be found on or just off of Court Street, are the best places to enjoy a meal before any kind of occasion.

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Casa Nueva – 6 West State Street (All photos by Brooke Robinson)

Casa Nueva is a classic Athens favorite, and with delicious Mexican-style food, vegan and gluten-free options, and live music, it’s no wonder why. Casa even uses ingredients like pawpaws when they’re in season for a truly unique dining experience. Friendly service, a casual ambience, and some of the best quesadillas in town make this restaurant a hit.

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O’Betty’s Red Hot – 15 West State Street

Perhaps you need to grab your food and run? Just across the street from Casa Nueva, O’Betty’s is a great little hole in the wall with famously delectable hot dogs. All the hot dogs on the menu are named after famous exotic and burlesque dancers, and vegetarian options are available. My personal recommendation is the Lily, which comes topped with homemade baked beans and cole slaw. Also, if you’re a cheese fan, their cheesy fries are the bomb. You can’t go wrong with O’Betty’s.

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Sol – 33 North Court Street

Athens is known for having a variety of exotic cuisines, and Sol is the epitome of that. This restaurant specializes in Cuban dishes along with traditional college student favorites such as loaded nachos (with cheese, black beans, lettuce, tomato, fire-roasted salsa, red onion, and sour cream – yum). Many of their dishes are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. Try their Cuban fusion wrap, fish tacos, or maduros (slightly cartelized plantains) and enjoy the friendly staff.

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Salaam – 21 West Washington Street

The minute you step into Salaam, the atmosphere sets the stage for the meal you’re about to have. Beaded curtains, colorful tapestries, and the hospitable employees make you feel right at home and ready for some amazing Mediterranean food. Try a plate of their Mediterranean pasta (penne pasta with basil pesto, feta, and sun-dried tomato) or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the vegan vegetable curry with tofu (fresh vegetables with fried tofu and a tomato/coconut milk curry sauce served over basmati rice with coriander chutney and papadum).

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Fluff Bakery – 8 North Court Street

Or maybe you’re more of the Leslie Knope-type and prefer to just fill up on dessert or baked goods before going out. Although Fluff Bakery also carries entrée-type food (sandwiches, salads, and salmon, just to name a few), they’re best known for their bakery, as you may have guessed. Their cannoli, pumpkin and red velvet cupcakes, macaroons, cinnamon twists, etc., are to die for. If you’re not hungry before walking in, the smell of the kitchen will have your mouth watering in no time.

Discover these out-of-the way dining spots

Scents of charred burgers and hot french fries flow out of the burger joints on Court Street, and greasy chicken and spicy Mexican food smells  fill the air around Union Street. It’s quiet, and people are settling down from the weekend. It’s a Sunday night and many people are home, but a few sneak out for a quick bite.

There are many restaurants on Court Street, and some are easy to miss. For more adventurous people, lesser-known places just off Court Street such as Sol, Restaurant Salaam and Zoe are hidden gems.

At 21 West Washington St., not far past Donkey Coffee, Salaam has been around since 2009. Mark and Hilarie Burhans, co-owners of Salaam, originally had a hookah café where Sol is now. They realized they enjoyed the food aspect of business much more and decided to start a restaurant that sold Middle Eastern food. Since starting the restaurant, they’ve had much success. Salaam serves global cuisine, including Indian, North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food.

“We first started this business to make people happy,” Hilarie Burhans said. “We stayed because we love the people.”

Salaam relies on word of mouth rather than advertising to drive business.

“Once someone comes in and tries the food, we get a loyal customer,” Hilarie Burhans said. “Everyone comes back and they always bring their friends.”

Students have heard about Salaam through organizations and classmates. “I first went to Salaam through Hillel,” OU senior Caitlin Karelitz said. “I have come back a few times after that and have loved it every time.”

Salaam’s customers are a mix of people, with students making up a smaller percentage than at other restaurants around Court Street. One reason they’re less likely to frequent Salaam is time.

Karelitz, a senior, goes Uptown more often than when she was a freshman or sophomore. “Not having a meal plan is hard when you don’t want to cook,” Karelitz said. “But also I don’t have time to visit a sit-down restaurant, which limits my options.”

Salaam offers different options from the usual chain restaurants. A popular meal to order is the falafel, which is eight discs of fried, seasoned ground chickpeas with tahini lemon sauce.

The exotic and calm vibes are very welcoming to anyone who wants to try something different, but Salaam is not the only hidden restaurant on Court Street.

Another big hit Uptown is Sol. This Cuban restaurant, 33 North Court Street, is located in the alleyway between Insomnia Cookies and Wings Over Athens. Being down an alley makes it easy to miss.

Unlike Salaam, Sol does advertise. They have a Facebook page and other advertisements. “People don’t think about Sol because not everyone likes Cuban,” sophomore Erin Pogue said. “Whenever my parents come down, it’s one of our first choices in dining.”

Sol, voted best overall restaurant two years running by the Ohio Brew Week, offers authentic Cuban cuisine as well as traditional American favorites such as steak, fish and ribs. In addition to the variety of food options, Sol offers more than 24 rums, 30 different bottled beers and a selection of red and white wines to complement their menu.

Sol is most known for its brunch starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, which is why many students dine there with their parents when they visit. Sol is definitely a place students can go on a budget. Two poplar menu items are the Mac & Cheese with BBQ Pork and the Sol Breakfast, both of which are under $10.

“I think I had a good first experience at Sol,” junior Sammy Presti said. “We went for my friend’s birthday and they had the table ready to go when we got there, which was really nice.” On the weekends it is good to make reservations because it is hard to predict how busy it will be. The best times to go are when they open, either at 11:00 a.m. or 5 p.m. That way they are not as packed.

The third restaurant many people don’t know about is Zoe. This upscale, sophisticated restaurant may be off the radar of the average college student due to its prices. Zoe has a nice bar with a variety of drinks. This is the perfect place for a date night or business meeting.

“I go to Zoe about three or four times a year, and it’s often for business,” Athens native Chris Gillespie said. “The other times are when I get an invitation from friends because usually they pay.”

Zoe differs from Salaam and Sol because they have different styles of food. The food is higher end, specialty items. Originally Zoe served French-American fine dining. Now they still have some French items but have a wider variety in foods such as vegetarian, chicken, steaks and seafood. This is not the place to go to order a burger and fries. The food changes so often that the menus are paper and not laminated. During the summer they have seasonal desserts that include melon-flavored sherbets, a Paw Paw dessert and Baked Alaska. This high-end dining is already exclusive based on the items they serve, but being a little farther off Court Street gives them a physical seclusion.

“The one downfall is there is no place to park,” Gillespie said. “Despite the parking problems, the quality of food outweighs the minor flaws.”

Zoe is a family owned restaurant and has been at its current location, 24 1/2 E. State Street, just past Passion Works Studio, for the past six years. Zoe was started by owner Scott Bradley nine years ago and was previously located in The Plains, where Fluff’s Rickshaw Thai restaurant was more recently. Zoe draws many Athens natives and university faculty members, but many young couples will come in for a special occasion such as Valentine’s Day. Over time they have attracted a younger crowd and hope to continue this growth.

“Zoe has this stigma of being this expensive place,” Front of the House Manager James Farley said. “Once people come in and look at the menu, they discover that it is not as expensive as they think and are usually pleasantly surprised.”

Zoe’s prices may not be the cheapest, but the food that is served justifies the higher prices. Foods that are found on their menu include, cedar plank roasted salmon, flat iron steak, and scallops. The flat iron steak is an $18 meal, which includes a 6 oz. steak, mashed potatoes and vegetables. A very popular and inexpensive meal is the Asiago Gnocchi, which is only $9. This is a great on the go meal for a student who is on a budget, but is tired of the same meal every weekend.

The interior design gives off a fancy, sophisticated look. The open kitchen allows customers to see the cooking in progress. On top of that, they have a mixology night every Wednesday where they have a special cocktail menu separate from their everyday cocktail menu. “During mixology night, we often see many groups of women or men rather than couples,” Farley said. “They are just looking for a relaxing night and usually set up in the bar section.”

Zoe gets its name out through advertisements on WOUB and occasionally running an ad in the Athens News. Most of their service comes from word of mouth. Many regulars will come and bring their friends.

“Location I think is definitely a big reason people don’t know about us because we aren’t directly on Court Street,” Farley said. “I always see people walk past this window, look in and then look up at our sign to see the name and then continue walking. They just don’t know we exist.” The big weekends such as Homecoming and Parents Weekend bring in a lot of customers. Zoe also gets a fair number of customers through business meetings and interviews.

Restaurant Salaam, Sol and Zoe have so much to offer, but their locations stop them from being top of mind. If students break out of their regular routine and go try out these hidden gems, they might just discover a new place they love.

Sidebar: A look inside the restaurants.
Here’s where to find three great dining spots

 

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Andie Danesi is a junior Publication Design/Infographics major with a minor in Journalism. She hopes to one day become an art director at a magazine, but until then she values each experience as an opportunity to grow as she continues her love for design. Check out her design portfolio. 

A guide to ethnic eats near Court Street

Craving something new and exciting? In walking distance of Court Street? You’ve come to the right place. Most people know of all the bars and restaurants in plain sight on Court Street, but some forget the hidden ethnic restaurants that are perfect getaways.  With exotic menus and worldly atmospheres, Thai Paradise, Restaurant Salaam, Sol, Jerusalem Grill and Star of India are excellent beginnings for a global adventure.

Still not convinced? With this guide, what to expect and what to order will come with ease and, of course, a happy tummy. Court Street can be intimidating, but choosing where to eat doesn’t have to be.

Thai Paradise ($-$$)
102 W. Union St.

Thai Paradise, simply put, is an American-infused eatery with dishes like curry and stir fry. The restaurant, located west of Union Street Diner on West Union Street, features a small, warm atmosphere. It’s excellent for a quick meal or a sit-down dinner.

Although not truly authentic Thai cuisine, Bu Tont, a server at Thai Paradise since its opening this fall, said the restaurant is the best and closest to authentic Thai food as it can be.

“Thailand is very tropical and some ingredients there aren’t available here, like certain vegetables, so we adapt,” Tont said. “Thai Paradise does have an American taste.”

Tont said when ordering Thai for the first time “What’s good?” doesn’t prompt an easy answer.

“It all depends on the customer. I usually recommend the Pad Pak – colorful veggies with rice in a brown garlic sauce – or Drunken Noodles – wide flat rice noodles, bell peppers, garlic, onions, and basil leaves,” Tont said.

The Pad Pak and Drunken Noodles both begin at $6.95 for lunch and $9.95 for dinner.

My suggestion? The Hot and Sour Soup is so flavorful and for $2.50 it’s a must-try. The traditional Thai sticky rice is also a delicious take on white rice. It comes as an option for a side for most dishes.

Restaurant Salaam ($$)
21 W. Washington St.

Restaurant Salaam serves the comfiest of comfort food inside its beautifully decorated restaurant of oranges and blues. The staff is polite, the service is exquisite, and the food is out of this world.

But that’s really the point. Salaam’s menu includes cuisine from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, North Africa, Thailand, India, and Pakistan.

Chris S., from Bowling Green, Ohio, wrote this review on Yelp: “Very nice cultural decor inside. A nice menu with some items being familiar to any who enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, but also a few unique dishes to help it stand out. Turkish coffee was a nice touch, which I don’t see enough of.”

Sharmeela S., from Columbus, Ohio, craves the Salaam ambience. In a Yelp review she wrote, “Great atmosphere in Athens!  I feel like I’m in a much bigger city. The aromas when you walk in the door build the anticipation of deliciously flavorful meal.  The Hilarie’s Salad with goat cheese and raisins is delightful.  I had the lamb kofte for dinner – lamb meatball stew.”

Hilarie’s Salad, starting at $4 for lunch and $5 for dinner, is one of my favorite dishes. I’m a sucker for soft, melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese found in this salad.

The Coconut Curry Chicken, $11, is mildly spiced and served with basmati rice, coriander chutney (a green combination of cilantro, ginger, chili, lemon juice, cumin power, and salt), cucumber raita (a yogurt mixture), and warm bread. It’s truly a delicious surprise. And don’t worry if you’re not a coconut fan. It comes on the side.

Many of the reviews on Yelp leaned toward an unfriendly, spunky staff. However, in my experience I had excellent dining service. Try for yourself to see where you stand.

When you go, try the hot sauce on the table made from fresh red peppers. It’s to die for.

Jerusalem Grill ($)
122 W. Union St.

Jerusalem Grill is another Mediterranean restaurant great for dine-in or take-out. It’s small, quaint, and has more of a diner-esque feel than an ethnic one. But what it lacks in atmosphere it makes up with cuisine.

Expect typical Mediterranean items on the menu, including falafel, hummus, and plenty of gyro (indeed, it is pronounced /’jīrō/) and kabob options. Not-so-typical items include smoothies and homemade cheesecake. I don’t exactly understand it, but I like it.

Jerusalem Grill focuses its cuisine on the lusciousness and diversity found in modern Jerusalem. Food is prepared, cooked, and served authentically to give customers a true Jerusalem experience.

The Shish Kabob and Hummus Sandwich, $5.99, is a new twist to American shish kabobs you’ve had in your backyard (skewers included). Served in a pita instead, the charbroiled beef tenderloin is topped with tomatoes, onion, sumac, and hummus. It’s a great meal for a great price.

For an entree, try the Musaka. For $9.99, this vegetarian dish includes sauteed eggplant with tomatoes, onion, marinara sauce, and a special house seasoning. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Cynthia Tackett reviewed Jerusalem Grill on its Facebook page, saying, “I find that most Mediterranean places Americanize the menu and this menu is a little more authentic. I’d love to see more food items that aren’t mainstream on the menu, but they are new and have a small staff.”

Jerusalem Grill opened in October 2013.

Some reviews note the service is subpar and some note the restaurant is usually hiring. At least they’re trying to tackle the problem.

Jerusalem Grill posts specials, deals, and general updates on their Twitter and Facebook, and a full menu on their website. Check it out before you go.

Sol ($-$$)
33 N. Court St.

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Photo credit: Emily Daffron

Sol is a perfect getaway – tucked away in an alley off Court Street — for a quiet Cuban meal and to sip on Cuban coffee. It’s comfortably tiny with a small room and tall ceilings and has a few booths with outlets for students who want to escape into studies.

The menu is very vegetarian friendly, as are most of the ethnic restaurants in Athens, and their black bean burger, $8.95, is phenomenal (I know – not exactly Cuban).

Sol also has the only rum bar in Athens and has specials every day of the week. Does half-priced bottled wine on Tuesdays and bottomless mimosas during Saturday brunch sound good to you? Bottoms up.

One review of Sol on Yelp matched my experience directly. Kat S., from Athens, wrote, “One thing that I like about the restaurant is that you can order an entree that’s less than $10 if you’re on a budget (the mac & cheese topped with pulled pork [for $8.95] is decadent). However, if you’re willing and able to spend a bit more, I am really impressed with their steak. [For $18.95,] it is served with chimichurri sauce and your choice of mashed plantains or red beans & rice.”

Hearing the buzzword “budget” was enough for me. Is it for you?

Grab some Cuban coffee for $2.50 and try a Sol Salad for $8.95. It comes with a unique house made pineapple dressing (yum!). Everything on the menu is exquisite. Give it a go.

Star of India ($$)
128 W. Union St.

Star of India serves Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Like Jerusalem Grill, Star of India’s atmosphere is not as inviting as other ethnic restaurants in Athens, but it does its job in serving unique, delicious food.

It’s one of the only Indian restaurants in and around Athens so Indian lovers don’t have much of choice for where to dine out. It causes some problems for customers who want an above average dining experience — not exactly what Star of India will supply.

What it will supply, however, is quality comfort food. The Chicken Tikka Masala, $11.99, is perfect for the approaching winter months. It includes oven baked diced chicken in a tomato and cream gravy and is served with long-grain basmati rice.

For a less expensive dining experience try the Tandoori Chicken starting at $6. The chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices then broiled in a special charcoal clay oven called the “tandoori” oven. It is served with long-grain basmati rice.

Alexander R., from Athens, on Yelp wasn’t shy with his review. He wrote, “This place is one of my favorite Indian restaurants on earth and I have been to a few. Typical small town Athens charm, the decor won’t blow your mind. But the focus is obviously on the fundamentals.”

“I might rate this restaurant differently if you picked it up and put it in a more urban environment with more competition,” Dan D., from Athens, wrote on Yelp. Since Star of India doesn’t have any Indian competition it makes it hard for customers to gauge its authenticity. “Alas my love affair has diminished as other culinary options popped up on the scene,” Dan D. said.

Where does Star of India rank on your scale? Try it out to see what you think.

Habibi’s and Souvlaki ($)
19 S. Court St., 9 W. State St.

If you’re on the go, don’t have time for a sit down dinner, or are not quite ready for the ethnic challenge, you’re still in luck. Habibi’s, 19 S. Court St., and Souvlaki, 9 W. State St., serve the perfect, tender gyro in no time.

Habibi’s has a classic beef and lamb gyro with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, parsley and gyro sauce for $5.99. Habibi’s also serves kabobs, burgers, and sandwiches at the same menu price.

Souvlaki has “YEE-ros” listed on the menu for $4.50 among other pita wraps, including the Souvlaki, marinated pork tenderloin rolled in a pita, and the vegetarian, mozzarella and cheddar cheese wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, carrots, and green peppers. Both are $4.50.

Pita pizzas, beginning at $2.75, and pita subs, starting at $4.25, are other Souvlaki favorites.

It’s worth it to try dining for a change instead of just eating. Check out the map below for a visual on all the ethnic restaurants on your global adventure.

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Graphic credit: Emily Daffron

Emily Daffron is a junior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She is a baby whisperer as well as editor-in-chief of Her Campus Ohio U. She hopes to work for a lifestyle magazine someday – writing feature stories, helping with photo shoots, online design, and/or magazine layout.

Court Street’s historical gem: Carsey’s Barber Shop

Court Street has become an extension of the quintessential college town that is Athens, Ohio. Students of Ohio University have turned this historical street into an avenue for partying. As more bars take the place of old shops and restaurants, the locals have had to establish their “townie” hangouts elsewhere. But, despite the party culture, one business has managed to preserve its historical presence on Court Street and offers a glimpse into the past.

The iconic red and white pole seems to swirl from a distance, and can be spotted from several blocks away on Court Street. When you walk into Carsey’s Barber Shop it’s like walking into the ’50s. Black, brown, white and red hair is scattered on the floor. The sound of electric blades wrestles with chatter about the holidays, the game, and the wife and kids. Old advertisements for Coca-Cola and Marlboro cigarettes plaster the walls. University letter jackets hang next to a businessman’s coat on the rack by the door.

This is a man’s world, and it’s obvious that no matter where the customer has come from, he expects nothing less when he walks through the door.

Four proud barbers line the mirrored wall. On the end, you’ll find Mr. Carsey himself, well his son that is, standing behind a leather seat, meticulously combing his customer’s hair. Max Carsey has been a barber his whole life. His father, Jesse Carsey, who still lives in Athens, started the business in 1942 when Max was just a baby. Max grew up in the shop and watched his dad cut men’s hair until one day, he would be old enough to do the same.

“I had so much fun in there, I decided I wanted to be like him,” Carsey said.

Carsey has seen the transition of Court Street’s businesses from a window shop’s view. He reminisces about “the good old days” when he could take a sack of coins to Woolworth’s Five and Dime and fill his pockets with candy. Now, he says, there is nothing but bars and restaurants.

But Carsey has made a point to maintain a high level of tradition in the shop. There is no music playing, no flat screen televisions lining the walls and no selection of flashy hair products. Carsey’s is the real deal. Men go for a good haircut, not the special treatment.

“I’ve been to several of the barber shops,” said Todd Wilson, owner of Sol restaurant. “They have the best haircuts here.”

The regulars at Carsey’s aren’t just Athens’ locals, they are students as well. Matt Watts, a junior at Ohio University, is a regular at Carsey’s.

“I like the vibe here, it’s quick, cheap and easy,” said Watts.

Carsey’s also prides itself on truly knowing their customers. Alan Trout, barber at Carsey’s for 19 years, has many regulars and he considers them his friends. On the off chance that Trout doesn’t recognize the next guy to walk in, he will make a point to learn their name.

“You just don’t get that kind of interaction anywhere else,” Trout said. “It’s a lot of the reason I have this job.”

All four barbers at Carsey’s are trained to use a straight blade, which is hard to find these days. A straight blade is considered dangerous and technique must be mastered before a barber is qualified to use one. Brian Muschott, barber at Carsey’s for three years, said he wouldn’t shave his customer’s hair any other way.

“I know when I walk in here, I’ll walk out with a good cut,” said Watts.

Carsey’s never has a slow day. Customers are in and out all day long, each one of them leaving satisfied with a clean, new haircut. And it is the combination of good conversation, a good haircut, and a sense of tradition and pride in their work that Carsey’s has managed to overcome the flood of students on Court Street and withstand the test of time amidst the chaos of modern life.

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Cassie Kelly is a student journalist at Ohio University. She is working toward a certificate in environmental studies and hopes to pursue a career in science journalism. You can find her hiding out in Village Bakery, typing away on her beloved MacBook.