New Roosters offers ‘foo-foo and fuss’ of men’s grooming

Ronnie Wachter | @RonnieWachter
July 14 10:28 a.m.


The Roosters grand opening is set for Aug. 12, but it is drawing attention with a giant, inflatable barber’s pole standing at its front door. On the wall in the lobby is the history of the now-whimsical symbol of stylists — and its macabre roots.

• “Barbers” were part of the medical profession centuries ago. “Patients would tightly grasp a rod or staff ... so their veins would show, and the barbers would cut open their arms and bleed them until they fainted.”

• Leeches later became a popular bleeding-control method.

• But the red-striped pole does not represent blood dripping down the patient’s staff — it represents the bandages the barbers used on the wounds. After the procedure, barbers hung bandages in the open air on a pole; the bandages flapped in the breeze, twisting around the pole and creating a distinct image that became barbers’ calling card.

It is not merely a shave; it is a “20- to 25-minute procedure.”

At Roosters, Andrew and Rachel HeLal offer a masculine version of “foo-foo and fuss” — Andrew’s description — to men willing to pay for more precision in their hair care.

The HeLals opened Roosters Men’s Grooming Center on July 7 in Lincolnshire’s CityPark shopping center. Intended as a medium between businessmen going to beauty salons to keep the touch of grey in their hair just right and dudes looking for a $12 deal, Roosters offers haircut and shaving procedures for $32 each, or the combo for $49.

“The point here is that a man is able to relax for a few moments and get a little pampering treatment that his wife or significant other is probably getting on a regular basis,” Andrew said. “Men are — I don’t want to say ‘restricted,’ but the society we live in, guys tend to be more basic.”

Offering hot towels, leather seats that lean back into rinse sinks, cherry wood paneling and a short, clear menu of services, the HeLals hope to make the luxury of “grooming” appealing to young men growing out of the SportClips experience and older men who can afford a bit more than SuperCuts.

In 1,300 square feet of storefront, they set up six spacious stations, plus a lobby with a television and low-volume classic light-rock wafting through the air.

The aura itself is important, Andrew noted.

“It’s all based on aroma therapy,” he said. “We want people to leave feeling great and smelling great.”

Roosters is a franchise set up by Regis Corporation, the hair-care giant that also owns SuperCuts and Cost Cutters. The HeLals, after years of working in hotels, casinos and elsewhere in hospitality, decided that they wanted to own their own business; Andrew said it was Rachel who settled on a men’s salon.

Besides being a basic daytime operation and not affected by seasonal rushes, men’s grooming is significantly more tame than the emotionally high-strung women’s side, they said.

But male grooming does offer opportunities for glimpses of the detail and pizzazz that women’s beauty is famous for; Andrew notes that just that morning he got a fresh-shave procedure that cut his cheek and chin hairs down to the subcutaneous level, but left a visible stubble on his upper lip.

The couple, who live in Buffalo Grove, said they are as secure about their location choice as their market choice. CityPark’s previous owner, ECD Co., let the property fall into receivership; its new owner, Foresite Realty Partners, LLC, in Rosemont, made the HeLals feel confident about moving in.

“They’re putting a lot of capital into the center,” Andrew said. “That’s what tenants like me really need.”