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'John the barber' retires after 45 years in Elmont

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John Gigante has become an icon in the Elmont community, cutting and styling residents’ hair at A Cut Above on Hempstead Turnpike for the past 45 years. But on Aug. 1, Gigante said goodbye to his loyal customers for the last time, at his retirement party.

They passed by his shop that afternoon, thanking “John the barber” for his years of service to the Elmont community. Then, family members and A Cut Above employees piled into the salon for a champagne toast and refreshments.

“I didn’t think I deserved all of this,” Gigante said of his surprise party. “It was overwhelming.”

The festivities were organized by one of his hair stylists, Kathy Chernow, who has worked for Gigante for 31 years. She said Gigante told her of his intention to retire about a month ago, and was devastated by the news, but knew he deserved to retire after all these years.

“He’s been great,” Chernow said of Gigante, calling his retirement “an end of an era,” as customers and employees have become a family over the past 45 years.

In fact, Gigante is the godfather of another of his employee’s, Donna DeGiuli’s, daughter. DeGiuli has worked for Gigante for the past 35 years, and said, “I would never work for anyone else.”

Chernow, however, said she hopes to make Brittnay & Co. in Franklin Square her new home, and for his part, Gigante said he will miss being “the barber of Elmont.”

“It’s been a pleasure all these years,” he said, thanking all of his customers and employees over the past 45 years, noting, “Without them, I wouldn’t have been here so long.”