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Street Name Honors Washington Hair Salon Owner

  • June Soh

After 47 years of being Diego D'Ambrosio's professional home, a stretch of the Dupont Circle street in front of his salon was renamed for him.

Diego D'Ambrosio's shop has welcomed people from all walks of life

In his half century as a hair salon owner, Diego D'Ambrosio has had such an impact on Washington, D.C., that the city named a stretch of street after him.

On a typical day, you might see a supreme court justice, ambassador or pizza deliveryman sitting in one of the shop's chairs, getting a haircut, shave or trim.

The Italian immigrant opened his hair salon in Washington's Dupont Circle area shortly after coming to the United States in the early 1960s. D'Ambrosio says he has thousands of regular customers, and as many friends.

Among his clients are many of Washington's elite and some foreign dignitaries as well. The walls of Diego's Hair Salon are covered with their pictures, given to him as a symbol of continuing friendship.

"I got everything here. I got the world here," he says pointing to the images. "All of these people, more than 135 ambassadors, more than 26 presidents and prime ministers."

Ordinary Washingtonians like Steve Levy also frequent the shop. Levy, who lives a few blocks away, has kept weekly Friday appointments at the hair salon for 25 years.

"Beyond the fact that Diego gives a great haircut, this shop is an institution and stands for so many good things. It is one of the highlights of my week to come in Friday afternoon and talk to Diego and get a haircut," says Levy. "He is a wonderful, wonderful man. He is warm and he is wise, he is kind. He is just a terrific, terrific part of Washington."

D'Ambrosio is also a good neighbor, says Steve Gavula, who opened a restaurant next to the hair salon four years ago. After forming a friendship, the two men partnered up to revitalize the area.

"We ended up cleaning sidewalks. We put some flowers. We went into the back and tried to clean up all the refuse back there," says Gavula. "We kind of worked together on lifting the whole corner in terms of its look and its feel."

City officials recently honored D'Ambrosio for his efforts to beautify and enhance the neighborhood. After 47 years of being D'Ambrosio's professional home, the stretch of the Dupont Circle street in front of his salon was renamed for him.

"I think the fact they named it Diego D'Ambrosio Way is a wonderful testament to him," says Gavula. "He is well deserving of it."

D'Ambrosio has also been honored by the Italian Embassy for promoting his heritage. But he is most proud of the many customers who keep coming back for a haircut. And he has no plans to quit what he calls the best job in the world.

"When you find you have the job you love, you'll never be tired and never be old," he says.