Stockbridge’s Cutting Edge
O’Neills opened on Manchester Road in April this year and we spoke to owner Jake O’Neill to get the lowdown on the exciting new emporium
It’s fair to say, that as far as Stocksbridge barbers go, O’Neills is a wee bit different to the other shops in the area.
In fact, calling it merely a barber shop is underselling it somewhat, as, while you can simply pop in and get your ears lowered by their amazing team of friendly barbers, you would be neglecting the opportunity to do a whole lot more with your visit.
Chief amongst those extra pursuits is the chance to chill out with a coffee and a slice of cake in the ‘Grounded’ café area, but soon you’ll also be able sink and a cheeky pint (or three) when their license goes through.
It’s not just what’s on offer that marks it out as different either. While we waited for owner Jake to finish a trim, sipping our flat white while The Doors crooned out of the speakers, we had the chance to fully take in the surroundings. It’s hard to miss features like the huge, barbered skull mural, or the traffic lights looming over the café area which makes the industrial feel of the café space pop.
Dare we say it, it all feels a bit Kelham Island on this particular stretch of Manchester Road.
And, in fact, that’s sort of what owner and Stocksbridge local Jake O’Neill was going for. He explained: “As soon as we get the premises licence it’s going to have a bit of a Kelham Island bar feel, and we’re planning to have live music as well. I’d describe it as a smaller, Stocksbridge version of Kelham Island’s Church, which is absolutely wicked and kind of where I came up with the idea to have the the bar as well.
The new additions have been made possible by the success and subsequent move from their original, smaller premises just down the road in Fox Valley.
“It was originally just going to be O’Neills barber shop again,” explains Jake, “but we’ve kind of expanded it into two businesses now because of the size. The idea was to have an emporium, so we’ve got the barber shop and then Grounded Coffee and Bar, which is being run by my uncle and my step dad.
“As soon as we came out of lockdown, that was it, we went from doing nothing, to all of a sudden, boom!
“Since then, it’s been amazing. There’s been so much excitement from people. Obviously, we were already established, and we’ve been in the area for about two years now, so people were aware us as a barber, but the feedback for the coffee and bar has been amazing. The coffee shop’s been doing really well.”
Word spreads quickly in the area and he’s already had the pleasure of trimming everyone from professional footballers to members of the Sheffield music world establishment and since opening on 12 April, they have already experimented with a few evening events, taking advantage of temporary events licenses.
Jake tells us these have been ‘buzzing’ and he is looking forward to bringing his other passion and first love, music, to the forefront of the emporium.
Jake was in several bands over a five-year period after leaving school, including Inherit the Stars and Archetype, with whom he travelled the continent as a gigging drummer.
It wasn’t until he was working on construction sites alongside gigging with the band that Jake looked to his mum’s profession as the inspiration for a career change. From there he dropped the drum sticks and picked up the scissors and began honing his craft at the likes of city centre snippers, Taylor Taylor and Savilles.
Jake said: “At the time I started getting interested in cutting hair, it was when the whole proper barbering scene came back to life. Classic haircuts, shaving and cigars. The clothes and all that, and when Peaky Blinders came out, that obviously helped grow its popularity.
“I lived in the city centre for a bit, but I quit where I was working at the time and came home, and basically just said, ‘f**k it I’m gonna open my own shop!”
Given Jake’s ties to the area, he took the plunge and opened O’Neill’s version I in the entrance to Stocksbridge’s popular shopping centre, Fox Valley.
“I’m from around here and I know a lot of people from around here, so I already had a clientele in Stocksbridge.” Said Jake. “I wanted to give people a proper barbers shop, a proper gentleman’s social club, and it just took off.
“I couldn’t be happier with it, but It’s not been easy, it’s been bloody hard at times. If you’re start starting something for yourself, you’ve got to go through that stage.
“It’s all about customer service for us. We give out free beers and people come in and talk about all kinds of stuff, whether it’s football or how they’re feeling mentally, I just want people to feel like it’s a place to come in and be themselves and not feel judged.”
With the new bar, things look to be about to kick into another gear for O’Neills, but not content to rest on his laurels, Jake already has plans for a pop-up barbers at next year’s Tramlines, as well as further plans for live music events in Grounded.
“We’re really excited for the future.” adds Jake, “O’Neills is not just a place for haircuts, it’s a chilled out place, somewhere where you can just come down, let your hair down and have a laugh.”
We can’t wait to see how O’Neills continues to stand out from the crowd in Stocksbridge.For more deets, head over to their socials.