One pastor revived his childhood neighborhood by reopening a barbershop that’s been a landmark in Miami’s Black history.

In the early 1960s, Ralph Pressley Sr. opened Esquire Barber Shop & Clothing store in Liberty City, according to The Miami Times. It was monumental because it was the first Black-owned business on NW 54th Street and 14th Avenue. The store remained open for nearly 60 years until it closed following Pressley’s passing in 2020. Its closure devastated the community as it was a representation of hope and a safe space for local Black Americans.

On Dec. 2, people gathered at the community hallmark for the grand opening of its symbolic reopening thanks to the new owner, Reverend Billy Strange Jr., the head pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church. Attendees participated in a celebration where people sang and danced, got free haircuts and enjoyed food.

The preacher was one of the community members deeply impacted by the store shutting down due to fond memories of his father — one of Pressley’s dearest friends and customers — taking him to Esquire for his haircuts. So, he took it upon himself to salvage the location. It was also a way to honor his parents.

“I grew up right around the corner from [Esquire] and came in for haircuts,” the 66-year-old explained. “I saw this as an opportunity to help the community.”

Strange acquired the building with the help of Pressley’s son, Ralph, who originally made a deal with investors who wanted to renovate it into a nail salon. After he expressed his interest in saving Esquire at the top of 2023, the Liberty City native voided the contract.

“When Pressley Jr. spoke to me, and I shared with him my interest, he said, ‘I’m going to nullify that contract, and we’re gonna get you in here,'” he said.

Some of the city’s government leaders were also in attendance to show their allyship to Strange for his new venture at the relaunch of Esquire. One was Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who sent William Poro (Assistant Director of the county’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development) in her place to ensure Liberty City knew her office was backing the reopening.

“Small businesses are the fabric our of community,” Poro said. “We don’t want to see them displaced, so if there’s a way of strengthening them through different resources, that’s what we’d like to do.”

Resident Martha Whisby-Wells, is excited to see a familiar business get a facelift and make a comeback as someone who frequented the barbershop with her father and brothers.

“It means a lot that this historic barbershop will be reopening and continuing its legacy,” Whisby-Wells shared at the grand opening. “The next generation of young men and women will be coming here to keep this Black business open.”

Other locals like Robert Beneby are excited that the next generation of children will be able to create unforgettable memories like himself and others who grew up in the area and enjoyed their time at Esquire.

“We were able to come here with our fathers and our mothers and it was just love in here,” Beneby told The Miami Times. “Everybody would talk and just have fun.”

Although the main customer base may be Black Americans, Strange wants the general public to know that everyone is welcome to Esquire. The barbershop is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 5 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with haircuts starting at $15.

Furthermore, mentoring services will eventually be offered to help those in need in other ways. Offering this type of assistance to his community is near to his heart after defeating a nearly two-decade struggle with drug addiction.

“God opened this door for me,” he said, “so here I am.”