Legends of DC: Diego D’Ambrosio

Jack Evans, Diego’s Wife, and Mayor Fenty by Max Cook

About five years ago, shortly after I moved to DC from Philadelphia, I was in search of a place to get a haircut as everyone does when they move to a new city.  Those of you who know me are aware that it doesn’t require a great deal of effort to cut my hair, just some electric clippers and a straight blade.  But as a kid, my dad and I went to the same barber for years, and despite not having as much hair as I did when I was eight years old, it’s a tradition that I still enjoy today.  As a resident of Dupont Circle, it didn’t take me long to stumble upon Diego’s Hair Salon at 19th & Q Street NW.  Little did I know that I’d stumbled upon one of DC’s legends.

Diego D’Ambrosio, an Italian immigrant, opened his hair salon in 1961.  As you can imagine, Dupont Circle was quite different in those days, but with his chance to start a life for himself in America, Diego made the section of Q Street between 19th and Connecticut Ave his own.  Since the time he opened his door for business, he has cut the hair of some of the most powerful and famous people in Washington including presidents, senators, Supreme Court Justices, mayors, diplomats, and members of the Catholic Church.  But what makes Diego so great is that you, an average guy or gal off the street, receive the same treatment and haircut as the famous people whose pictures cover his walls.  Every time I walk into Diego’s shop I look forward to his greeting, “Hello, my friend!” and his goodbye, “Ciao!”  I love the music that fills the air ranging from Italian opera to Anne Murray, songs that your parents or grandparents would listen to.  It’s like stepping back in time and I love every minute of it.

Sometimes referred to as the “Mayor of Dupont”, he can be seen out sweeping the sidewalk in front of his shop, promoting local businesses, and working with city officials to keep the neighborhood safe and in tip top shape.  It is because of his work ethic, true kindness, and involvement in the community that Diego’s part of Q Street was officially named, “Diego D’Ambrosia Way” by Mayor Fenty (who ironically needs no haircut).  This honor, bestowed to other DC legends such as Ben Ali and Chuck Brown, could not have been presented to a better person.  In attendance at today’s ceremony were Diego’s wife and two sons, members of the Archdiocese of Washington, Councilmembers Jack Evans and David Catania, as well as many friends and loyal customers.

With 70 degree weather, free coffee and cupcakes, Italian meatballs, and “Funiculì, Funiculà” in the air, it’s not hard to understand why I love DC.

Diego’s Hair Salon
1901 Q Street NW Diego D’Ambrosio Way
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-4572

Hailing from the Mile High City, Max has also lived in Tinsel Town, the Emerald City, as well as the City of Brotherly Love. Now a District resident, he likes to write about cool photos by local photographers, the DC restaurant and bar scene, or anything else that pops into his mind.

4 thoughts on “Legends of DC: Diego D’Ambrosio

  1. Walking into Diego’s is always great. I live in Falls Church, but drive into the city just to go to his place.