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Barber Shop Landmark Closes

Tavern Square tenants scramble for space as deadline comes.

After 20 years, an Old Town landmark will enter the history books. At midnight July 31, the Tavern Barber Shop in Tavern Square will give way to the changing business scene.

Proprietor Yoon Jin Kim took over the ownership of the shop in 1982. A native of Seoul, Korea, Kim came to this country in 1976, with her husband.

Earlier this month, Kim received a letter from Tavern Square, LLC, informing her the lease was being canceled effective July 31. Kim has been on a month-to-month lease at her location, 412 Cameron Street, since it was last amended in August, 1993.

"I didn't think they would cancel," she said. "But, I'm looking for new space. I have a lead on a couple of possibilities. One is in the 200 block of Cameron Street."

The commercial ventures on each side of her shop are also being vacated. Fashion Stitch, 410 Cameron Street, owned and operated by Hyun S. Yun, closed in late April. Tavern Square Shoe Repair and Dry Cleaners, 414 Cameron Street, will also close at midnight July 31. Each had a month-to-month lease.

"I tried to get a long-term lease, but they said 'no' because they wanted to combine the spaces for a large tenant," Yun said. Kim said she also tried to get a long-term lease on her space but was denied by the property owners.

Yun reopened her shop on May 1, at 129 S. Royal Street. "I really like it here. It is working out very well for me and I have a long-term lease," she said. "I was in Tavern Square for nearly 10 years. My new lease here is for three years with a two-year extension option."

Anthony J. Kim operates the shoe repair and dry cleaners on the Cameron Street side of the barber shop. "I've been here 21 years but I'm not going to reopen. It's time to retire," he said.

ACCORDING TO Riley Privett, chief engineer and manager for Tavern Square, LLC, "It is my understanding they intend to combine all three spaces for a large tenant. They are presently in the process of getting demolition permits to change the interior."

The combined spaces would total approximately 6,000 square feet, Privett said.

Wesley Rice, a partner in the law firm of Patten, Wornum, Hatten & Diamonstein, L.C., in the Tidewater area, which represents Tavern Square, LLC, and who signed the letters to the two shop operators verified, "There are a couple of potential leases pending that requires making the space available."

Pat Troy, who was also on a month-to-month lease in his old Tavern Square location, said, "I tried to tell Kim she should be looking for a new location. The owners have been very reasonable but they are looking at the future for the overall property. It's been going more and more to city government space."

Troy's previous location now houses the city's Registrar's office. "My new space works much better for me, both from the standpoint of operations and rent. Now I have a 10-year lease with renewable options," Troy said.

Parting the scene with Kim will be Agge, her pet parrot that tells all her customers, "Looking good" and "Have a nice day." Agge was purchased by Kim's son to replace one she had been babysitting for a customer.

"When he came home and took back the parrot, I really missed it. That's when my son bought me Agge." As one of Kim's customers said, "The ironic thing about the parrot is that it will probably outlast us all."

As for Kim finding new space in the Old Town area, those hopes were summed up by Privett. "I sure hope she finds something close and soon. I need a haircut."