The Barber Shop Café — Hillsboro, New Mexico

Built in the 1880′s, the Barber Shop Café offered customers a bath, shave and haircut until about fifty years ago. The building is preserved much as it was—the original mirror still spans the width of the café with a sign stating “Baths 25 cents.” Nowadays, instead of shaves, baths and haircuts, the Barber Shop Café now serves customers the best food for miles around.

Barber Shop Café
Barber Shop Café

Carrie Felice Carrillo attended Culinary Arts School and ran a catering business in Los Angeles, California. Her mother, Angela Detloff, grew up in Hillsboro and was working in Los Angeles as a pattern maker for a major fashion designer. Angela returned to Hillsboro in 1999 looking for a place to retire. She purchased the barber shop and after several trips back and forth between California and Hillsboro to ready the barber shop for use as a café, they came back to stay on April 17, 2000.

The Barber Shop Café has been a success and both Felice and Angela prefer the small-town atmosphere and friendly people of Hillsboro to the fast pace of city life, but their life in Hillsboro can hardly be called “retirement.” On any given day you’ll find Felice seating and waiting on customers while Angela is hard at work in the kitchen.

The current fare includes a variety of sandwiches, salads, burgers with iced tea, fresh-squeezed lemonade, hot tea, soda, milk shakes, and chai to drink. Felice is constantly adding variety to the menu.

Carrie Felice Carrillo and her mother, Angela Detloff. Photo by David Burch.
Carrie Felice Carrillo and her mother, Angela Detloff.

The café is popular not only with local townspeople but for miles around. The Barber Shop Café has not had to resort to advertising: word of mouth has made regulars of people as far away as Las Cruces and El Paso. The day I ate there, customers slowly began to show up when the café opened at 11:30 and its seven tables were full, with more townspeople gathering outside, by 12:25.

Felice also owns Felice Carillo’s Weaving Shop in town, which sells blankets and other woven goods, leather goods and pottery. Felice plans to expand the shop to add a courtyard dining experience for shoppers.