Seven Kings barbers closes after 62 years in business

Suleyman Melit, who runs Tony's in High Road, Seven Kings

Suleyman Melit, who ran Tony's in High Road, Seven Kings - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Tony's barber shop in Seven Kings has closed after 62 years in business.

The High Road barber gave its last haircut on Saturday, September 25, after owner Suleyman Melit decided to retire. 

Suleyman, 66, joined Tony's in 1980 and took over from its founder in 1997, but decided to shut up shop after his son moved on from the business. 

He said that it had struggled in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also as a result of increasing competition. 

Tony's in High Road, Seven Kings

Tony's in High Road, Seven Kings - Credit: Daniel Gayne

He said “We used to be very busy, because it was only us down here, only me and UK Salon."

Demand was high enough for many years, Suleyman said, to sustain himself, his son, and founder Tony, who continued working at the business even after retiring. 

He felt that the neighbourhood had changed a lot since he started working there, but that his older clientele has meant that the hairstyles have largely remained the same. 

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Suleyman said that the business has multiple regular customers who have been coming since they opened back in 1959, with some coming from as far as Cambridge and Southend to get their haircuts. 

Suleyman Melit, owner of Tonys, with gifts from customers

Suleyman Melit, owner of Tony's, with gifts from customers - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Many of his regular customers brought gifts of whisky and champagne this week to congratulate him on his retirement. 

“Everybody says ‘do you feel sad?'

"I say ‘what can I do’, the time comes I have to finish,” he said. 

When Suleyman’s son left the business to become a bus driver, he decided that he would continue going until the shop’s lease ran out and then retire.  

He said: “I feel happy when I retire, but I’m not feeling happy that I’m closing down.” 

Suleyman said he wants to visit Turkey, Cyprus and Spain in his retirement, but his first plan after 41 years of “non-stop” work is simply to rest.