Bad Beard or Good Beard is in Eye of Beholder
Rob Miller, founder of Dangerous Man Brewing Co. in Minneapolis, rocks his beard.
“What’s up with you young people and your beards,” I asked my 20-something nephew a while ago, thus instantly being crossed off his “favorite aunt” list. His beard had morphed from trimmed and stylish in my eyes to Taliban-style, as I like to call it—long and bushy with two fronds spurting from the ends like walrus tusks.
When I learned he was bar-tending at a hipster craft-beer restaurant, where everybody else had bodacious beards, too, I knew I was on to a story. What are restaurant owners doing about their wait staff and their serious facial hair? What happens when all that hair gets in the soup? And where’s the health department?
Turns out all the restaurant owner/operators I called are struggling with the same thing. “It’s a millennial thing. They love their beards,” said Paul Altero, co-founder of Bubbakoo’s Burritos, a New Jersey-based chain with eight stores so far. People at the top of the food chain tend to be Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers, and to a person they all said facial hair was verboten back in their day. Now they’re having to adjust their policies or risk losing their entire workforces.
(I found one exception, the CEO of a major quick-service franchise, who refuses to cave to the beards. I won’t reveal his name until my article on the topic appears in the October issue of Franchise Times.)
Meanwhile, everyone has an opinion about beards, it seems. “There are good beards and there are bad beards,” said Sam Holzinger, taproom manager at Dangerous Man Brewing Co. in Minneapolis. He sports a trimmed beard today, which gets a seal of approval from a baby boomer like me, but just a few weeks ago it was ginormous. “It was brutal, brutally big. When it started getting hot I had to get rid of it,” he said.
Then there’s a former work colleague whom I saw after several months of separation, wearing a two-foot long beard that had turned entirely iron-gray. “You look like Osama bin Laden,” I tragically blurted out, which is not the way to win friends and influence people. But c’mon, do people really think they can rock the ISIS look, other than those in ISIS?
The Beard Institute, a website promoting grooming tools and products for men and their beards, sheds some light on the trend toward more and more beards, while promoting “the manliest cool beard styles of 2015.” Those include the Shadow, the Short Boxed, the Olde English and the Full.
“Since time immemorial, men have grown beards as a way to show their strength, status and power,” it says. More to the point: “Men that can grow a beard strike fear in the hearts of the bare-faced baristas of the world.”
All good and well, and I get it. But then they added some excellent advice. “Wear your beard proudly, but don’t forget that a well-groomed beard is the key to invoking envy and attraction.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, but then no one’s listening to aged aunts like me.