A notice taped to 10 stations at 18|8 men's salon reads: "It is now legal to get stoned at 18|8."
In smaller print, it continues, "Ask your stylist, what's the deal!"
When taken up on the invitation, co-founders Ron Love and Scott Griffiths explained that hot rock massages are part of the venue's offerings — along with haircuts, scalp treatments, shaves, facials and more.
"18|8 is the original formula for stainless steel," Love remarked. "It's 18% chromium and 8% nickel. We use it as a metaphor for transformation because we help our guests look better, feel better and perform better."
All the cutting tools are stainless steel as well, Griffiths said, adding, "We like to tell the ladies, 'Men get rusty; we get the rust out.'"
The nearly 1,500-square-foot space is part of a new wing being added to the Bella Terra Shopping Center in Huntington Beach. It joins Fantastic Sams, Happy Nails and Hue Aveda Salon in providing differently priced grooming services.
In short order, Solita, Sweet XO, Eureka Burger, Nekter Juice Bar and Cotton Dry Bar will join the mix — as will 467 apartment units.
"We're building a community built around [the concept of] 'live, work and play,'" property manager Candice Amigable said about The Residences at Bella Terra.
"Residents that enjoy where they live engage with each other. They shop together. They dine together. With the addition of these new retail and restaurant offerings, we ensure they have a fabulous place to go."
With monthly rents beginning in the $1,700s, these homes are drawing discerning diners, shoppers and moviegoers who are quickly homing in on their favorite spots.
Amigable has noticed guests responding favorably to the launch of 18|8 while awaiting the other tenants.
"We see shoppers roaming by our soon-to-be opened stores, hoping to get a peek of what's to come," she said. "We love that they are as excited as us."
That very excitement is palpable among longtime friends Love and Griffiths, who launched 18|8 Fine Men's Salon in Pasadena in 2002 in response to what they identified as a void in the market for men. Since then, outposts have popped up in Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and elsewhere in California, as well as New Mexico and Minnesota.
With eight corporate locations under their belts, they began franchising in April. Love estimates that between 85 and 100 franchises will be in development by the end of the year, growing to about 300 as 2014 winds down.
"We are in the top 1% of franchised companies right now in America," he said. "We're one of the hottest tickets."
In Huntington Beach, 18|8's doors open to reveal a chandelier, warmly colored walls and chic interiors. Semi-private stations include a sink, large leather seats and a towel warmer. The site also features a kitchen, change area with smocks and a beverage section offering coffee, sodas, wine and beer — on tap and in bottles — as part of the experience.
According to Love, nose-, ear- and eyebrow-waxing — often considered the purview of women — are among the salon's most popular sellers.
"Two things men should never do: one, go through a woman's purse, and two, go to her salon," he said. But in fact millions of men are doing the latter because of the absence of an alternative.
And that's where 18|8 steps in — and succeeds.
Client James Spear, who made the switch from Supercuts after 10 years, shared this testimonial on the salon's website after his first time there:
"I left feeling relaxed and refreshed, and my girlfriend noticed and commented on how good my hair looked before I even mentioned 18|8, so I take that as 'money well-spent.' I'll be back for my next cut and to check out the kegerator they were installing when I left — nice."
If You Go
What: 18|8 men's salon
Where: 7631 Edinger Ave., Suite 1500, Huntington Beach
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Information: http://www.eighteeneight.com or (714) 373-1888