Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BREAKING: Fort Thomas Landmark Business Forced to Move

An ad for Smitty's Barbershop in the first ever Fort Thomas Living Magazine in 1977
When the property manager of the Hiland Building on North Fort Thomas Avenue asked co-owner of Smitty's Barbershop, Brian Akers, a few months ago how long he wanted to be there, Akers recalled just how long former owner, Curvan (Smitty) Smith, was in that location.

"I told him Smitty had been there for 50 years and we wanted to be there another 50 years and 1 month," said Akers.

According to Akers, that wish will not become a reality. "We were notified the day before Thanksgiving that there was another business interested in our storefront as well as the vacant space behind (Smitty's Barbershop) and that our lease would not be renewed." The additional space behind the barbershop, which is one of only two businesses in the Hiland Building with street access, would give the new business moving in approximately 2,000 square feet.

Smitty's Barbershop will be moving to 910 North Fort Thomas Avenue, which is across from the 915 Bar and Grill, Fit Philosophie and Tracy Davis State Farm. 

Smith started working at the barbershop in 1958, bought the business in 1970, finally selling it to Akers and his partner, Dave Brisco, in 2008. Akers and Brisco, who have worked at Smitty's Barbershop for 18 and 19 years respectively, signed a 3-year lease with a 1-year mutual option. The 3-year term is coming due this December 31. This was standard operating procedure for the business.

"I called Smitty and he was really upset (about the impending move)," said Akers. "He poured his blood, sweat and tears into this place and thought it would be here forever. (The property manager) made is seem like the new business coming in was pretty close to being done. We were given about 30 days notice."

"(The property manager) tried to show us other places in the (Hiland Building). He told us he would convert a portion of the lobby to a barbershop for us, but that just wasn't going to work," said Akers. "We don't want to move out of Fort Thomas. About 90% of our customers live in the surrounding area."

According to Akers, after their lease was up, they were only going to be granted a month-to-month lease, regardless of if a new tenant was interested.

Fort Thomas resident, Matt Richard, is an implant from New York and has been getting his haircut at Smitty's for about 8 years.  According to Richard, he quickly realized that because he was not from Fort Thomas, in order to get a feel for the community, he would have to do that by going to Smitty's Barber Shop.

"Smitty's Barber Shop has been such a staple in Fort Thomas for many, many years.  It has led to generation upon generation of residents who go to the local barber shop to get their haircut and also have a good conversation about the happenings in our community," said Richard,  "It is truly unfortunate to hear that they are losing their lease and on such short notice.  I know myself and many others are hoping that they are able to find another location in town and soon!"

Another long-time Fort Thomas business, Marshall Granger Jewelers, moved from the Hiland Building last year after 53 years in the same building.

The property manager was originally reached for comment, but asked to rescind his original remarks.


  1. WOW. What a shame. Glad they found a new place. Thanks for the reporting, Mark.

  2. The last line is so telling. I have no clue who the landlord is, but I'd be willing to bet a dollar to a doughnut he's not from here.

  3. Glad they are staying in Fort Thomas, but as a long time customer there, it is sad not going to the same place. It's been there so long. My dad, myself and now my son have been going there for generations.

    The building itself is part of the nostalgia.

  4. The owner is not nice. If he sees you using his parking lot to visit other businesses in the area he has had the cars towed.

  5. Lousy way to treat tenants.. That really stinks. What happened to Marshall Granger was a rotten shame also. Sounds like owner is hiding in anonymity.

  6. The owners (via LLC) are:

    J. Howard Dawson
    Margaret B. Dawson

  7. It's my understanding that the property manager is the son-in-law of the elderly owner. He does not live in Fort Thomas and has no accountability to the residents here or the Business community

  8. On the bright side it will be nice to have an established business moving into the Inverness and the Briarcliff building. We also don't know anything about the new business moving into the Hiland which could turn out to be a good thing for the community. So while I sympathize with Smitty's having to move, I am excited about the new location and a new business choosing Ft. Thomas to call home.

  9. This is just the latest in a string of rude and arrogant behaviors by the Dawsons and Cornett. I believe that one would be hard pressed to find ANYONE who would have anything nice to say about these scum. They have now successfully displaced several Fort Thomas icons with their bizarre behavior. With the vacant space from everyone else they have chased out of town, they had to take the iconic Smitty's? You will not catch me or my family anywhere near whatever business those morons can get to steal that space. Having dealt with those jerks on the parking question, I can validate that they are greedy and exhibit poor judgment. They can stick it!

  10. Good businesses solidify communities. Reading the Yelp reviews of Smitty's -- it really saddens me to see that once again those who do good and are good, are forced to make adjustments. I can only hope that the community continues to rally around Smitty's and support it in their new location.

  11. @Scott...why shoud the new tenant suffer a boycott just Because the landlord displaced Smitty's? That is moronic. FT Thomas residents need to support local businesses. Period

  12. Hopefully it will be another Insurance agent...... sarcasm.... This sucks!! Thanks Building management for sullying the image and face of central fort thomas....all for a few extra bucks....for shame....for shame.....

  13. Chief Rick Heilman
    We are witnessing the loss of a landmark that is near and dear to alot of us. I was there for Smitty's 50th and pushed for him to be Grand Marshall for the 2008 4th parade. Since then Brian and Dave have stepped up and kept this iconic Barbershop alive. You could always count on the window being painted in support of Highlands sports and getting the latest info on what was going on around town while waiting for a haircut. On more than one occasion I got drawn into a story or lead out for a beating while I don't know maybe a Catholic priest was hidden under the hair cloak. I may no longer live in town but always try to stop in when I am to get a cut and chew the fat. 31 December will be their last day in the current location so if you got the time stop in get a cut, chew the fat or just give Brian and Dave a hard time for me.
    Brian Akers and Dave thanks for keeping it going and good luck to you in the New Year!