SYRACUSE — Every time barber Kyle Patchett has a customer sit in his chair for a haircut or a shave, he looks forward to the conversation he is going to have with that person.
“Every 45 minutes, you get a completely different story in the chair,” says Patchett, the founder and owner of Forum Barber, LLC in downtown Syracuse. “You put the cape on someone and their clothes, whether raggedy or fancy, don’t matter anymore.”
Patchett says he loves talking to people and he likes to connect with those of all different backgrounds.
He hopes to infuse that ethos into Forum Barber, which he opened on July 13 at 227 W. Fayette St. in Armory Square.
Patchett started cutting hair about six years ago, when he was 18. The Syracuse–area native moved to Brooklyn two years ago, where he worked as a master barber. He says he always had a goal of ultimately opening his own shop in Syracuse, but he moved back sooner than he expected.
Patchett says an ex-girlfriend led him to New York City and the COVID-19 pandemic brought him back.
When he worked at a barber shop in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, there was not a single television in the space, Patchett says. It was in an old auto garage and in nicer weather they would cut hair with the garage doors open. It created a neighborhood feel, and that’s what Patchett says he has created at Forum Barber.
“Everything that’s expected in a shop in Brooklyn I wanted to have back here,” he says.
Patchett’s 700-square-foot shop has three chairs. Another master barber is cutting hair along with Patchett, and an apprentice is working on Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well as Saturdays.
Patchett renovated the space himself with his brother. Besides taking out a small loan, Patchett used his own savings to start his business.
“I wanted the actual space to have an energy to it, so people walk in and it’s not just a room,” Patchett says. The space he obtained helps with his goal, he says, because it “has so much character.”
Patchett says that anyone who feels like they don’t fit in a barber shop elsewhere is his customer base. He thinks that will include young professionals looking to invest more in their day-to-day life and look; artistic, musical and creative types; and people from the LGBTQ community.
When addressing how Forum Barber stands out, he notes that there are barber shops with a lot of noise from TV screens and “it’s just sports, sports, sports. And not everyone loves sports.”
Forum Barber is offering a hot towel with every service unless a customer gets a cold shave. Forum also offers a free beer or hard seltzer after 4:30 p.m.
The goal is to facilitate people staying and hanging out, Patchett says. He wants Forum to be a place where anybody can gather and connect, and a place where people can forget about their anxieties for a while.
Patchett’s long-term goal is to turn Forum into a creative space, a “shell for whatever people want to do here.” He envisions it being a place where gallery shows could take place or open-mic nights could be held.
“I really want this to be a space where creative people can show off their talents,” he says.
Patchett says he hopes as people in their 20s and 30s move back to Syracuse that his shop can be part of the revitalization in downtown Syracuse.
“I love Syracuse,” Patchett says. “I really want Forum to be part of the revitalization in downtown Syracuse and give the neighborhood an amenity that will make people want to take a chance on living downtown.”