EL CENTRO – Sitting back in a comfortable barber chair and closing your eyes, a new customer of Headquarters Barbershop gets ready a new experience at “The Reserve.”

After immediately taking in the ambiance of the rustic yet comfortable and familiar feeling of the new barbershop location’s aesthetic, the sweet sounds of classic music like Ray Charles or Frank Sinatra fills the ears. As the client lies back to relax, Reilly the barber readies a hot towel and prepares the steam machine.

Somewhere between the warm towel being placed gently on his face, the inhaling of minty smelling steam helping to open facial pores, and the locally made “beard butter” being rubbed on his face to soften beard hair before Reilly’s expert straight-razor shave, the new customer decides to become a regular, even before being politely offered a complimentary beverage by the very friendly staff.

This is only part of the experience customers of Headquarters Barbershop can get at its still new location at 605 Wake Avenue, Suite 5, called “The Reserve,” which opened on November 2, 2023.

What started as a small barbershop and a dream when Headquarters Barbershop opened in the Imperial Valley Mall on October 10, 2015 has blossomed to a larger Mall location in August 3, 2018, adapted to the COVID pandemic to a mobile barber unit E350 bus from 2022 to the end of 2023, and has now grown to a large secondary location known as “The Reserve,” Headquarters owner Juan Vargas, of El ëƵ, said.

While the Headquarters location at the Imperial Valley Mall, near Dillard’s, is still fully operational, Vargas said the new Reserve location with all its retro fixings and old timey feel is drawing an older, “more mature” clientele for a more relaxed barber or salon-type experience.

“Most barbershops you go to you go to for a quick service, just a haircut on its own, but here at The Reserve we like to offer with all our services a hair wash, hair shave, facial steam, beard butter, hair cut, blow dry ... so we don't have just like a normal hair cut, we have these services included with a haircut,” Vargas told IVP on Wednesday, January 10.

“With the services we provide we're kind of like, I guess you could say, a spa for men, or for anybody,” he said. “I like to call it 'a mature crowd.'”

“From I've learned from this new shop is that a lot of people are not used to being relaxed, so we're trying to make that a thing: When you come in you can relax,” Vargas said. “When you come in here just let your shoulders drop and let yourself get a good treatment.”

In addition to the full Reserve experience of a hair clean, cut, steam and shave (if wanted) for a relatively low price, The Reserve also offers ladies’ hair styling, eyebrow waxes, facials, coloring and more.

Yet, most first-time customers comment on the steam treatment and how they feel after The Reserve experience, Vargas said.

“When it's finished (clients) all say, 'My face feels nice and soft now,'” he said, “and that's kind of what we're going for here — an experience rather than a quick in-and-out type service.”

As for the retro/classic look of the shop itself, Vargas said he got all of the decorative items from local home and thrift stores.

“I've always been into like Robert Deniro and his type of movies and the style he has in his movies, so originally I wanted to make it look like a whisky bar kind of vibe,” Vargas said, “but as I was doing shopping at the local antique stores here it just came together on its own.”

From the wooden bar to the vinyls and other old timey articles adorning the walls and corners, the vibe of The Reserve is immediately noticeable to first-time customers.

“It went away from a whisky bar/cigar lounge so now I like to say it’s more like a rustic, pub kind of antique vibe now,” Vargas said. “It implements of little bit of everything.”

“People like come here (to The Reserve) because of the privacy [compared to the Mall location], and the services that we offer aren't offered at that many other barbershops.” He said. “The other thing is the way that it looks ... it kind of takes them back to when they were young because we do have an older clientele base.”

With the pandemic mostly in the rearview mirror, Vargas said Headquarters will still utilize the mobile unit later on in 2024, catering more from all types of calls to those who specifically are home ridden or need the special home-visit services, like the elderly or those with autistic children, ‘for the convenience of the customer,’ he said.

“I'd like to add that this is only the beginning and there will be more to come,” Vargas said. “I have a lot of ideas and my vision is very bright, and I just can't wait to let everybody see ... and experience them.”

One idea The Reserve will implement in early February is a localized and more ‘home feel’ Karaoke Night at the new Wake location, an idea that came from one of The Reserve’s female customers.

“It's more than just coming to a barbershop; I want it to be a place where the community can come and kind of make this like their home away from home,” Vargas said.

For more information on The Reserve call (442) 231-8290. For the other Headquarters Barbershop locations or services, visit .

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.