As I sit back into my vintage leather Barber chair, with the sound of classic rock and blues in the background, my Barber Chai Famia offers me a cool beer from the bar that is a part of a regenerated old bistro that is now a vintage clothes, Barber and Whiskey store. The Alchemist Barber Emporium located in the heart of the West End, right next door to Delilah’s, is one of the many green shoots sprouting up in the wake of a brave new initiative by local government in San Antonio to change the business model of their town. Its run by a new generation of English entrepreneur, happy to invest in an area that is undergoing much change right now.
The Alchemist has brought a touch of creative style to the streets of the West End, with a music policy that prefers classic rock, blues and acoustic sessions to electronic beats, accompanied by a stylish and trendy hair cut to boot. It sells vintage shirts and fine Whiskeys from around the World and serves Vegan food on its menu. The Alchemist is reflective of what is happening in the West End right now, as the old tourist traps close down, new vibrant businesses are starting to replace them. Many are little restaurants, artisan bakeries, vegan takeaways, Barber and Tattoo shops, that operate during the day and not just at night, bringing a new lease of life and tourist to the area. Small and soulful has returned in popularity to the beautiful sunset resort again.
When I entered the Alchemist I was greeted by Chai who hails from Nottingham along with his good friend the Viking inspired Tom Davis, who introduced me to the Emporiums mascot dog Bjorn. Both are proud of their inked limbs and bearded faces, it seems male facial hair is big in Ibiza this summer – anything that replaces the Man Bun works for me. The Alchemist also caters to the ladies with London based stylist Rianna Evie specialising in braids and Up Do’s. The experience was very much a pleasant one, we chatted about the football and I drank a cana while Chai skillfully went to work on my hair. It was a stylish and professional cut, that lacked only a small detail in its finishing touch. The Emporium also stocks my favourite hair product American Crew, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it at the Alchemist.
It’s personally most satisfying to see creative new startups like The Alchemist be part of a fresh wave of change for the West End. It brings hope and new beginnings to the area and is vindication of the locals councils move to clean up its streets. Only recently, Police arrested 12 prostitutes that were preying on tourists and for the first time ever, the local government seem determined to change things. Maybe they could encourage more businesses like The Alchemist to repopulate the West End by implementing incentives and tax rebates to open there under certain categories. It’s a good news story for The West End and we wish the team at The Alchemist Barber Emporium, all the very best for the future.