nuBest celebrates 50 years

nuBest celebrates 50 years


Michael Mazzei, 83, had a vision 50 years ago when he signed a 99-year lease on the Best & Co. department store in Manhasset.

His ambitious goal was to transform the space into a “department store of beauty,” with comprehensive services beyond what a salon typically offers.

Today, Mazzei looks back on the dream that became a reality, nuBest Salon and Spa, which officially opened on June 19, 1973, coincidentally Mazzei’s birthday.

With a team of over 100 hairstylists, colorists, nail technicians, and aestheticians, the salon is still a thriving hub of beauty and self-care, catering to thousands of clients a week in a bustling 20,000-square-foot space.

“Celebrating nuBest’s 50th anniversary feels like a dream,” said Mazzei, “I am so proud of what my family and I have been able to achieve with nuBest. We have created a community for our clients with the help of nuBest’s highly trained and extremely talented staff.”

In 1973, the salon offered more than beauty services. It was a shopping destination for clothing, which provided customers with purchasing options and a unique experience. Over the years, Mazzei has continued to redefine what a salon is and put his creativity into product development.

In the 1990s, Mazzei collaborated with the former creative director of the salon’s color department, Leland Hirsch, to create ARTec, a line of hair care products. The line was later acquired by L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics brand.

In the early years, Mazzei started his expansion strategy, breaking through walls to incorporate adjacent spaces into the salon. This allowed for the creation of a separate color department and spa area.

Mazzei has become known for his innovation and staying ahead of industry trends. This intuition led him to hire architects in the 1980s to give the salon a modern and captivating facade that still stands today.

The salon received a boost to its brand after a 1984 New York Times article showcased its affordable prices and the exceptional quality and breadth of its services.

The exposure catapulted nuBest into the spotlight, attracting sophisticated Manhattanites and celebrities. The year also saw the salon featured in the opening sequence of the movie “Desperately Seeking Susan,” which showed actress Rosanna Arquette in the salon.

The journey of Mazzei into the hair business began with his actual trip to America. As an Italian immigrant, he arrived in Queens at the age of 14 and started working in a soda shop. Through his uncle, who was a barber, Mazzei discovered his interest in hair and decided to pursue formal training in cosmetology.

Continuing Mazzei’s legacy now is his family. His son, Jamie, and his cousins Vincent Cascio and Christian Fleres, have taken on the day-to-day operations of the business. And most recently, the business has reached its third generation, with Jamie’s son Marco, 19, following in his family’s footsteps working as his father’s assistant and paving his own way as a future hairdresser.

One of the main elements that set nuBest apart besides its services, is its commitment to nurturing talent, Mazzei said. He implemented a comprehensive trainee program that gives aspiring hairstylists the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals, starting with washing hair at the sinks and assisting seasoned stylists, to gradually having chairs of their own.

The journey of nuBest Salon and Spa has not been without its challenges.

In 2011, Mazzei faced kidney failure, but his son Jamie saved his father through the donation of one of his own kidneys in a successful transplant.

The Covid-19 pandemic presented an unprecedented obstacle for the salon. Forced to temporarily close its doors, Jamie and the staff used this time to strategize plans for a safe reopening.

When the salon finally welcomed back its clients, it did so with half the number of chairs for distancing, a separate temperature check-in station, and the use of disposable smocks and chair covers.

During the pandemic, Jamie and Cascio lent their talents to the local community by giving free haircuts to doctors and staff at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

Throughout the years, nuBest Salon and Spa has nurtured a loyal clientele who have become an integral part of its enduring story.

During the 50th anniversary party, many clients, some for decades, spoke about the salon’s enduring reputation and the trust they have in the Mazzei family’s skillful hands.

nuBest Salon & Spa is located at 1482 Northern Blvd in Manhasset.


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