Diego’s secret? Just his style

Clients of all stripes put heads in hands of ‘mayor’

Mr. D'Ambrosio, who is known by many as "the mayor of Dupont Circle," greets Glenarden Police Chief Philip A. O'Donnell. "For me, everybody's a friend," he says.Mr. D'Ambrosio, who is known by many as “the mayor of Dupont Circle,” greets Glenarden Police Chief Philip A. O'Donnell. “For me, everybody’s a friend,” he says.
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He cuts the hair of ambassadors from warring countries and congressmen from opposing parties, but Diego D'Ambrosio says he doesn’t take sides.

“I’m for everybody,” he exclaims, waving his hands. “Come a Republican, I’m a Republican. Come a Democrat, I’m a Democrat.”

In his hair salon, where he is known by many as the “mayor of Dupont Circle,” Mr. D'Ambrosio always sports a red tie, a neon smile and a mop of golden hair that his nine employees take turns trimming.

Part performance artist, part raconteur, Mr. D'Ambrosio conducts business at Diego’s Hair Salon with a maestro’s flourish, punctuating his sentences with an “ah” after every other word - an aspect of his heavy Italian accent.

“My shop is the best one all over the world,” he says, leaning over to tell the client in his chair that The Washington Times is interviewing him.

“Don’t let it go to your head, Diego,” says the client.

“Too late,” Mr. D'Ambrosio replies.

He points to a photo of himself standing next to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.

“I walk with the pope,” he says. “Who walks with the pope?”

Diego’s Hair Salon, much like its owner, is a sensory experience: The walls are papered with the signed photos of the many congressmen, ambassadors, Supreme Court justices and heads of state who have sat in his chair. The scents of shampoo and coffee swirl in the air. Luciano Pavarotti’s rendition of “Nessun Dorma” provides background to the daily symphony of clippers, blow-dryers and ever-ringing bell that heralds the entrance of each client.

The building, on the small slice of Q Street between 19th Street and Connecticut Avenue Northwest, has landmark status. The strip of land was christened “Diego D’Ambrosio Way” last April - thanks to longtime client and mayor at the time, Adrian M. Fenty.

“For every person who has visited his Q Street shop, he has an innate ability to make them feel like the most important customer ever,” Mr. Fenty says.

“Anyone come here repeat come back again because the service we give is very special,” says Mr. D'Ambrosio, a native of Santa Marinella, a provincial town near Rome.

A cappuccino aficionado, he sips between snips and pauses to greet everyone who walks into his shop with a firm handshake and a “Bonjourno.”

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About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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