Sal’s on Oakland

Sal’s on Oakland

By Cynthia Sommer (April 2013)

Sal’s on Oakland is the kind of barbershop where you could find three generations of customers getting a haircut.  Salvatore Lo Coco has been in business on Oakland Avenue for over 43 years and going strong.  His ties to the upper eastside extend even longer than that with his parents moving to the 2500 block of N. Oakland Avenues in the early 1960’s and his wife Antonette growing up nearby.

After graduating from MATC and doing a 3-year apprenticeship at Peter’s Barbershop on Brady St. in the mid-1960’s, Sal bought his own two-chair barbershop business at 2949 N. Oakland (now Knucklehead’s store) in October, 1969 from Emmett O’Donnell, a barber who owned the business at that location for the previous 15 years. The business community and neighbors welcomed the young owner.  He became active in the University Square (now Upper Eastside) Business Improvement District in their effort to upgrade the Oakland Avenue business area with 46 distinctive Harp street lamps. After 25 years, Sal moved to his current location at 2919 N. Oakland (next to Clark Graphics).  Christopher Lewis, also a MATC graduate, joined Sal at the second barber chair at that time and has now been with Sal for 18 years.

Sal and Chris are both trained as barbers and not cosmetologists so while you might not be able to get coloring or perms you will get a haircut done by pros solely focused on traditional men’s cuts.   Prices range from $16 for style, $15 for children, $9 for shampoo, $9.50 for a beard or mustache trim and a boy’s first haircut is always free.  His clean, friendly place is a mixture of the old and new – Sal proudly uses his classic 1940’s Chicago barber chairs (reupholstered several times) that he bought from Emmett O’Donnell and appreciatively displays his new barber pole and plaque that were Christmas gifts from relatives and friends last year.  Sal’s is just the type of traditional barbershop where you can come in, grab a cup of coffee, join in great conversations on community and city happenings and leave looking great.  Customer’s comments include:  “the best cut experience in Milwaukee.  Nothing fancy… just a great cut.”; Sal and Chris “are true professionals that should not be missed”.   Sal does have many long term customers so it is recommended to call for an appointments at 414 -961-9823. The business is open on Tues- Saturday from 8:30 am- 4:30pm.  Also check out his web site at

Sal is far from being ready to retire.  He is an energetic guy who does 5 K runs, won 3rd place in his age group at the Festa Italiana 5K Lakefront run, won with others the Italian Fest 2004 Bocce championship and local soccer team championships in the 30 and older group.  Sal enjoys people and the many regular customers that come from Milwaukee, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Hartford, and all over – many are former neighbors, UWM Professionals and students who come back year after year.    If you are young or old, don’t miss the chance to stop at Sal’s for a great experience and haircut.   MHNA wishes you many more years of business in the area!