Three generations now working together in Paso Robles shop and salon

PASO ROBLES — It took a pandemic to kind of slow down 85-year-old Nick Ruberto.

Ruberto has been cutting hair in his shop — Nick’s Barber and Hair Design — on Creston Road since March of 1996. He was closed for much of the past six months due to the COVID-19 guidelines but has reopened since personal care businesses were allowed to move indoors again. Ruberto said his five-chair shop specializes in shear over comb.

“The people should know we are going to be here,” said Ruberto, who was born in Italy. “We are going to give the best service in town.”

Ruberto has been a barber for 65 years. His father and grandfather both cut hair. His family came to America from South America in 1961 and has been in California since 1967.

“Nobody love working more than me,” Ruberto said. “I’ve never been late a day in my life.”

“He’s in his glory when he’s working,” said his daughter, Nicole Pebenito.

Nick’s was reopened for about a month as the state and county successfully moved through the initial phases of reopening. This was followed by an uptick in cases and deaths across the state and led to the state pushing personal care services and others outdoors.

Instead of working outside, the family chose to close again. Since reopening a second time, business has been steady.

“It’s been steady, but 50 percent down,” Pebenito said.

“It will pick up. We are seeing the difference from one week to another. It takes time,” Ruberto added.

Fortunately, Ruberto owns the building occupied by the barbershop in one half and his daughter’s beauty shop — ViZions Day Spa and Salon — in the other half.

“If we had to pay rent, that would kill us like it has some businesses downtown,” Ruberto said.

Ruberto’s wife initially started the salon but under a different name.

“She retired in 1991 and handed it to me,” Pebenito said. “I run back and forth. I work one day in the barber shop and the other days next door. We have the salon on one side and the barber shop on the other. It has been quite convenient for a lot of people.”

Before moving to the rolling hills of Paso Robles in 1983, Ruberto had a shop in Los Angeles for 20 years. He commuted to his business in LA three days a week until he opened a shop across the street from his current Paso Robles location in 1990.

“I get up at 3 a.m. and drive to LA,” Ruberto said. “People say I was crazy. You do what you have to to support your family.”

“There is a saying in our family, ‘Make money while you can because you never know when you can’t,’” Pebenito said.

“When I have the opportunity, I take my opportunity,” Ruberto added.

Pebenito’s son, Johnathan Horton, 20, works in the barber shop.

“Three generations together. He’s the fifth generation. I’m the fourth,” said Pebenito proudly.

Horton, who earned his license in January, had the start of his career stalled by the pandemic.

“I was going to school before all of this happened, and I got my license on Jan. 6 that was right before everything hit the fan, and then we got shut down,” Horton said. “That was depressing. I was just starting my career.”

Ruberto is looking forward to working with his grandson and knows the business is in good hands.

“We are going to continue,” Ruberto said. “I have my daughter, Nicole and my grandson; they are interested in the business. It will stay in the family for generations to come.”

Nick’s Barber and Hair Design and ViZions Day Spa and Salon are located at 631 Creston Rd., Paso Robles. For more information or to make an appointment, call Nick’s at 805-238-6246 or ViZions at 805-238-6621.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles