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A Close Shave

A Grooming Mecca Takes a Cue From the Ladies

Article by Meredith Guinness

Photography by Mindy Briar

Originally published in Westport Lifestyle

When Kennedy’s All-American Barber Clubs first started popping up in the tri-state region in 2009, they were steeped in an old-school, clubby vibe of pool tables, whiskey, and cigars.

A lot has changed in 12 years, says Jarrod Manfro, President & CEO of Dark Horse Development, which owns the Westport Kennedy’s.

“Men now? Post-pandemic? They’re all about looking good and feeling good,” says Jarrod, who joined the company after leaving the hustle and bustle of Wall Street to do something “more Main Street America.”

It turns out, the best bet was taking a cue from the ladies.

“Women have always had great options,” says Jarrod. “They are treated as individuals, have consultations with stylists. We want to have that for the men, too, so they can have that kind of confidence.”

Gone is the pool table early members might remember. In its place, you’ll find a menu addressing all facets of men’s grooming, making sure each member feels clean, confident, and composed as he heads out to a busy workday or an evening out with his special someone. 

While both he and his clients were moving towards a fitter lifestyle pre-2020, Jarrod says the pandemic made many more conscious of their responsibility to adopt healthy habits.

In addition to signature haircuts and precision straight-razor shaves, Kennedy’s offers shampoos and relaxing neck massage, as well as decidedly masculine skin refresh sessions. Appointments include personal consultation with skincare and grooming specialists and access to a range of grooming products in a shared sanctuary steeped in an air of relaxation and contentment.

While Dark Horse owns a few Kennedy’s locations, he’s concentrating on the Westport space in Playhouse Square. His staff here has introduced facials and manicures to an appreciative crowd that wants to look its best as the country moves out of the stay-at-home years and back to the office.

For an introductory $99 a month, members gain exclusive access to Dark Horse Wellness lifestyle, exercise, attitude, and nutrition coaching. Grooming services include hair color treatments and gent’s waxes and the website,, is just as likely to include a recipe for healthy black bean brownies as it is for beard-trimming tips.

“The industry is definitely evolving,” Jarrod says, “and we’re at the forefront of that.”

  • Jarrod Manfro
  • Man-club vibes.
  • Chairs for cuts and shaves.
  • Products available.
  • Kennedy's All-American Barber Shop in Playhouse Square.
  • Jarrod Manfro, President & CEO of Dark Horse Development