By Todd Franko
Lisa Reali likes men. But not in the way that should evoke giggles and smirks.
She likes men in that they’re a segment of the population who don’t go out of their way to care for themselves.
Believing that if you build it, they will come, she’s poured her heart and her dollars into William Leonard’s Extraordinary Gentleman.
William Leonard, for short, is a men’s salon and spa. Hairstyling, massage, manicures and pedicures all are on tap at William Leonard.
The salon is a retreat-ish setting flush with earthy tones, room to roam, tunes and beverages.
There’s also plenty of space for Lisa’s expansion plans — “cards and cigars,” she quips.
“We’re going to turn this area into a hangout area with a brown sofa,” she says about an area in the front of the shop. She points to a wall in front of the sofa area and says a large flat-screen TV will go there.
This is a place you’d find in Canfield or Poland.
It’s easily placed in trendy downtown nooks in Cleveland or Columbus.
You could even see the boys at Club Tippe carving out some square footage in the Canfield Castle for services such as Reali’s.
But to find William Leonard, you have to mingle amid the creaks, cracks and courthouses of downtown Youngstown.
If you know where City Hall is, and if you know where Rosetta Stone is, you’ll find Lisa’s downtown oasis right in the middle.
“I’ve watched my family and friends since I was little give their time and energy to our city. I feel purpose and honor to give mine in return,” she says.
Lisa’s dad is William Reali, who’s a partner in the accounting firm Reali, Giampetro & Scott, which was started by his father.
She cites her dad often as she explains the steps taken to get William Leonard open. His advice and his support seem as structurally vital to the place as the exposed beams on the main floor and the refinished stone walls in the basement.
The name of the place is, in fact, his first and middle name. And his own pampering experience helped motivate Lisa to open the salon.
“I remember the day my mom [JoAnn] took my father for a manicure in Florida. He was really happy with his hands and nails. It was neat because he was like, ‘Look what I did, isn’t that kinda cool?’”
In her dad, she sees a typical male attitude.
“The men in our life are very unselfish when it comes to ‘us’ girls spending time or money at the salon on ourselves. Knowing the benefits of a good, quality salon experience enticed me to return the favor.”
Lisa’s “favor” opened in late January at the corner of West Federal and Phelps streets.
Her downtown neighbors have been supportive. She has also learned to manage less-than- desirable neighbors of downtown — guys such as Greg and Jimmy.
If you’ve been asked for money by a downtown beggar, it’s most likely been one of the two.
I know of Greg. But Jimmy was new to me, and she tells an interesting tale of him:
Jimmy urinated on her building one day. She called the police and said she was going after him — with a cleaning bucket. By the time she caught him, he was in front of the police station with a cop staring at him. She yelled at Jimmy to go clean his, um, proceeds.
He looked at the cop with an “are you kidding me” look. The cop told Jimmy it was best if he went with Lisa. He did.
She hired Greg to clean the front of her building — paying him $5 every week or so.
“He’s so proud when he’s done.”
Lisa’s proud, too.
And she’s hopeful the men in her neighborhood find her salon and buy into her belief that guys should pamper themselves a little more.
New haircut, $15.
Use of coupon, $5 off.
Cup of coffee, free.
And a new hairstyle that people seem to like, that’s from a spa downtown, and that covers a growing bald spot.