Family Owned Business Hair By Kenny is Vital to the Arthur Avenue Community


Hair by Kenny is just one of many family-owned businesses on Arthur Avenue. (Courtesy of The Belmont BID)

For regular clients of the barbershop Hair by Kenny, owner Kemal Frljuchkaj was the man with scissors they trusted with their hair year in and year out. Last January, Frljuchkaj passed away, and Arthur Avenue lost a longstanding member of its community. 

Kemal Frljuchkaj was more than a neighborhood barber. He was a friend and patron to many businesses on Arthur Avenue. He was also a father, and his family is the perfect example of the strong ethnic heritage common throughout many of the businesses on Arthur Avenue. 

When Frljuchkaj passed away, the future of his shop was in question. Since then, his son, Besnik Frljuckic, has taken the reins, hoping to carry on his family’s tradition for generations to come. 

“My dad first came to this country in 1985,” Besnik says. “Since ’87 this has been his [barber shop]. He’s been in the neighborhood since then. Now, I’m the son, and I inherited it since his passing in January.” 

Frljuckic says that after his father’s 35 years of service to the neighborhood, he has some large shoes to fill. He says he intends to follow in his father’s footsteps and keep their shop alive. “I hope to do everything I can to keep this open and keep the tradition going for my family and the generations that come on,” he says.

Frljuckic explained that his father’s relationship to the Arthur Avenue community led to connections and friendships that greatly helped with operating a business. Kemal, often referred to as Kenny, has had regular customers coming to his shop for decades. 

My dad was cutting hair back in Yugoslavia,” Frljuckic says. “People who came from over there to over here have been coming to him so, probably 40 to 45 years, still customers.” 

Frljuckic says that within the neighborhood, especially recently, long standing networks between store owners help keep each business thriving. He says he appreciates the kinship among the business owners. “My dad, he’s known basically everybody,” Frljuckic says, “everyone is close and together where they helped one another out no matter what.” 

Currently, Hair by Kenny is open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, with some COVID-19 restrictions. Masks must be worn at all times, and only one customer is allowed in the shop at a time. Frljuckic says the restrictions have come with some challenges; for instance, he is the only barber working in the shop right now. He hopes that when the restrictions are lifted, he can hire more barbers and get the shop running at a larger capacity. 

Frljuckic says he likes having his father’s clients because catering to the same customer base for decades is a reliable source of business. Hair by Kenny has often served the Fordham University community as well, as one of the closest barber shops to campus. 

Senior Dan Ahern said, “I’ve been going to get my haircut there since I was a freshman. It’s just a very peaceful environment, they’re really nice guys. He’s [Besnik Frljuckic] easy to have a conversation with.” Ahern also added that Frljuckic “gives great cuts, so that’s all you need.”

Besnik Frljuckic says the value of a good haircut can’t be overstated. Aside from a good haircut, however, Frljuckic says he wants clients to be comfortable and enjoy their time at his shop. “Come, get your haircut, have a good time, watch the soccer games, the football games, whatever you like,” Frljuckic says. “That’s what we try to do.” 

Despite temporary COVID-19 restrictions, returning customers say that, under Frljuckic’s ownership, Hair by Kenny is in good hands and will continue to  give out fresh haircuts with a friendly attitude for generations to come.