Robert Amoruso: Martin County barber among many wanting to learn when they can reopen

“Are we going to make it through another 30 days?"
Posted at 10:22 PM, May 07, 2020

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Frustration is growing for barbershop owners wanting to add pressure for the state to give them a reopen date.

Some are not sure how much longer they can wait without having to close down for good.

Robert Amoruso, the owner of Bob’s Barber Shop, says he originally thought he’d be able to open in phase one of the state’s reopen plan. He thought he had a specific date to plan for.

With no word of when phase two might happen, he says it’s harder to plan how to sustain his business and worries other barbers might soon go under.

“I started this business in 1972. 48 years ago,” Amoruso said. “I started by myself and it grew into a 6-chair barbershop.”

Amoruso has gained a lot of stories over the decades.

“It hasn’t been easy to build a strong business in 48 years. We’ve gone through everything imaginable. Hurricanes...We’ve gone through the gas shortage. We’ve gone through the stock market crash. We’ve gone through the major widening of Dixie Highway,” Amoruso said.

Now, COVID-19 is on the list of challenges, but he says it has been one of the tougher obstacles.

“The last 30 days, I actually feel like I was sinning, doing something wrong because I’m not here,” Amoruso said.

His chairs have been empty despite customers pleading to come back.

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“We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls,” Amoruso said. He’s kept a list of customers who have showed up hoping to get a hair cut. There are dozens, potentially more than 100 names.

“Are we going to make it through another 30 days? Is that what it’s going to be? There’s not even an indication of when phase two is going to take place,” Amoruso said.

Governor Ron DeSantis’ Reopen Florida Task Force recommended barbershops and salons reopen in phase one, but that did not happen. DeSantis said it is important to open slowly to be safe.

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Amoruso hopes barbershops will be a priority in phase two.

“I’ll wear a mask and cut your hair. We disinfect the chairs with Lysol. We have spray bottles with alcohol that we do on our gloves,” Amoruso said. “I don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone, but before I will close or go out of business, I will take my chances opening up.”