Beloved Austin barber shop closes after 58 years

Monty and Danny's closes after 58 years

Monty and Danny's is a piece of old Austin in a quickly, evolving city. Or more appropriately, "was" a piece - after the long-time shop closed its doors for the final time after 58 years.

Danny McDaniel has been here since 1964, giving haircuts to scores of loyal customers. Many of those customers made the trek back to Austin over the past week for one final cut.

"I haven't made (any) money, but I've made a lot of friends," joked McDaniel, surrounded by friends who've frequented his shop for decades.

But past the actual cut - the room was open for all sorts of discussion. Whether it be politics, pop culture, or news - Monty and Danny's was a no-frills shop that was proud of its roots and traditions.

When McDaniel first began giving haircuts as a teen, he charged $2.25. Based off inflation, that equals just under $17.50 in 2016. McDaniel charged only $11 to his customers.

Despite facing raising utility costs and property taxes, McDaniel did not want to run off his loyal customer base.

"I have so many customers like all these gentleman that are in here now that have been with me so long. And like I told you before, we're working class people. So I just feel like as long as I can make a living and survive, after all these years, that's all I want to do. I don't want to stick it to anybody or anything," McDaniel explained.

His brother Monty left the business around 16 years ago, but Danny has always kept the name.

"I didn't want to hurt his feelings," McDaniel joked. "When you work together as many years as we did, and never had an argument. Never had a cross-word with any of us, I just said 'I'll just keep it up there as 'Monty and Danny's.''"

As word spread over the shop's closing, McDaniel has seen many familiar faces.

"A lot of fun, a lot of old memories. There's so been so many old stories told in here that it would just blow your mind," said McDaniel.

He spoke of a customer who flew in from California with his son for two final haircuts. Another customer is now a successful attorney, and returned to the shop 34 years after his last visit. Many came by just to say 'Hello,' take a seat, and reminisce on the incredible success.

One friend stopped by on Thursday to perform a song he wrote just for Danny - which drew a round of applause from the shop.

For McDaniel, the closing was bittersweet. He had planned to continue working until he was 80, but says he was simply priced out.

"There's no other places that I know of that's like this," explained McDaniel.

Over the nearly six decades, quite a few famous faces have walked in. McDaniel used to cut Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell's hair, and gave a trim to famed Nashville DJ Jimmy Carter. But the shop may best be known to outsiders for its scene in the Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson movie "Another Pair of Aces."

On a personal level, the shop also the sight of one of McDaniel's greatest moments: his proposal to his wife.

While he joked that he put her in the chair, and offered her marriage or a buzz cut, his wife said it was far more romantic.

"Most people don't think that's too romantic to be in an old barber shop like this but it was pretty neat, after all the years of being up here before when we were so much younger in the barber shop," she said.

Their relationship is unique, to put it mildly. They first met about five decades ago, at a nearby theater. After dating for a year, the pair went their separate ways, and each married different people. About five years ago - both now single - they reconnected, after she ran into a mutual friend who encouraged her to call him. Instead, she went to H-E-B, bought a card, wrote the message, 'If you'd like to connect and talk about old times with an old friend, call me."

McDaniel did, then asked her out on Valentine's Day. They dated for four years before being married Feb. 9, 2016.

it's just one of thousands of stories and tales to come out of Monty and Danny's.

But shortly after 1:00 Thursday, the one you're reading is officially the last. In a touching gesture, Danny passed the key to the shop's next owner, a man who plans to turn it into a salon.

For McDaniel, he has no future plans - outside sleeping in on Friday.  While the shop is closed, the conversations and laughs he's shared with customers along the way will always be etched in his mind.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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