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Minnesota's best cut; Villaran brothers in statewide spotlight

Kevin Villaran trims Lou Chicquette's mustache. Chicquette has been a regular customer since Mike's Barbershop opened in 2012, saying their work gets a passing grade from his wife, Inez. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Mike Villaran trims up Jeremy Schoeder of Red Wing. Schoeder said this was his second trip to Mike's Barbershop, and he plans to return. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

It's been a busy week for Mike and Kevin Villaran. On June 15, the brothers — and barbers — were featured on a WCCO viewer's choice segment which named Mike's Barbershop the best barbershop in the state.

"It's surreal," Mike Villaran said. "Just being nominated was a big surprise for us."

Mike said he was contacted by WCCO in May, informing him that his shop received enough nominations to be in the top three for voting. One week after voting closed, a congratulatory call came through.

"We were a little in shock," he said," but very grateful."

WCCO meteorologist Chris Shaffer and a film crew spent three hours in the barbershop, preparing a feature piece to air on an evening news broadcast.

"It was a little nerve wracking at first, but they just let the microphone and cameras roll while we worked with customers," Mike said.

The brothers said in the days following the WCCO segment, they have seen increased traffic in the shop.

"We've been seeing a lot of new faces," Kevin said.

"The weekend after we aired, we had eight customers drive down from the metro for a haircut because they saw the segment. Our chairs were full all day."

Others in the industry have reached out to the brothers, as well.

"We got phone calls from barbershops all over the state, congratulating us on the honor," Mike said.

Classic feel

Lou Chicquette has been a regular of the barbershop since Mike opened in 2012. The 93-year-old Red Wing resident gave three reasons for his patronage of the shop.

"They're good sports fan, they sweep the floor everyday and my wife gives them an A grade," Chicquette said, while receiving a trim from Kevin.

In the chair across from Chicquette, Jeremy Schoeder visits the shop for his second time, getting a cut from Mike. Several decades younger than Chicquette, Schoeder said he will become a shop regular.

"It's the whole atmosphere here," Schoeder said. "But the Jeanie Rub sealed the deal."

A speed massager called the Jeanie Rub is the finishing touch for Mike's Barbershop customers, with a few quick passes along the back and shoulders.

"It's an offshoot of what the old-time barbers used to do," Mike said. "Everyone loves it. It's a great way to finish off a haircut."

Community of bests

The square footage of Mike's Barbershop is small, with a simple setup following suit — two stations, some mirrors and a TV screening the latest baseball game. The high quality, authentic experience delivered by the Villaran brothers, however, creates a barbershop environment that now, reaches statewide.

"We're the fifth area business to be named in this best of the state series. As good as this award is for me — it's just as good for the town," Mike said.

Hallstrom's Florist, Josephson's Clothing Store, Hanisch Bakery and King's Place have each been honored by WCCO viewers in their respective categories.

"This is really a credit to our incredible community," Mike said.

Mike's Barbershop is open Tuesday through Saturday on a first-come, first-serve basis. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

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